As Charlestown City Council President, I would like to address the issue regarding the City Council’s discussion at Monday night’s meeting to possibly reinstate a Parks Board for the City of Charlestown. As the fiscal body of the City, it is the City Council’s responsibility to insure that City operations are fiscally sound and in compliance with the approved budget.
Recently, Mayor Hall purchased a Ford Explorer for the Parks Director. This was not a budgeted item, nor was it brought before the City Council for approval of an additional appropriation for the purchase and the associated expenses that come along with the Parks Director’s new take home vehicle. When questioned about this purchase at a meeting, the question went unanswered by Mayor Hall and Clerk Treasurer, Donna Coomer. Additionally, Councilman Dan James asked Ms. Coomer for an accounting of other Parks Department expenses, which she refused to answer for the City Council at the meeting. Ms. Coomer became visibly agitated by Mr. James’ inquiry and instructed him to provide a detailed request in writing. The Mayor and Clerk Treasurer’s reluctance to share the details of certain Parks Department expenditures with the Council immediately raised a red flag and the discussion was then initiated to reinstate a Parks Board, with the idea that this Board would provide the transparency needed in the operation of the Parks Department. Once the idea was brought up, Mayor Hall was immediately against the idea.
His actions at the meeting and his false public statement on his Facebook account have only validated the Council’s concerns. Per Indiana Code IC 36-10-3-4, the Mayor appoints four of the members of the Parks Board and one member is appointed by the School System; the City Council does not have any appointments to the Board. Now it seems that not only does Mayor Hall not want to share the financial accounting of the Parks Department with the City Council, but he also does not even want to share it with his own appointees on a Parks Board.