King says he did not violate city policy
City Manager Gary King said he did not violate city policy by paying for his wife, along with the wives of Councilmembers Pete Brandt and Bill Deile, out of his office’s budget during a dinner function at Tarpon Pointe.
The city played host to the Reserve Officers Association’s convention on April 30, during which time Maj. Gen. Keith Thurgood, deputy chief of the United States Army Reserve, served as the keynote speaker.
Tickets for the dinner were $60 per individual. The city manager’s office paid for the three spouses, along with Deile and Brandt, according to city vouchers.
According to city administrative regulations, “Employees shall not be permitted to use City funds or be reimbursed for any personal items, alcoholic beverages, entertainment, or any expenses incurred by guests or family members accompanying the employee.”
Under the administration chapter of the city’s code of ordinances, “Employees shall not be reimbursed from city funds for any personal items, alcoholic beverages, entertainment or any expenses incurred by guests or members of the employee’s family.”
King said he “clearly” did not violate any city policy, nor was he aware of any policy that could have been violated by paying for the council members and their spouses.
“I’d like to know what policy it is I’ve broken,” King said. “We spent a whole Saturday promoting our economic development with the general. The dinner was a show of city leadership at a dinner in his honor.”
King said it was important to have some of the city’s leadership in attendance at the dinner, especially following a day-long tour that touted the city’s economic development potential.
King added that he felt the general walked away from the city with a good impression, and that any money spent was simply an extension of fostering that relationship.
“We made a wise investment,” he said.
Meanwhile, Councilmember Marty McClain is wondering if a legal opinion is in order for what he says is a clear violation of city policy.
McClain said the issue would undoubtedly come up during council meetings, maybe as early as next Monday, and that use of his funds to pay for council spouses was no different a recent employee who was caught stealing from Pop’s Cafe.
“The citizens are entitled to a clear explanation,” McClain said. “I don’t understand why was this done when he clearly knew the rules and regulations.”
McClain is referring to a hand-written note on the voucher that covered the King and Deile parties that indicates King was made aware of the policy.
McClain said he would likely engage City Attorney Dolores Menendez for an answer as to whether King violated city policy.
“Had this been previous city managers, this would have been grounds for termination,” McClain said.
City vouchers also indicate that Councilmembers Derrick Donnell and Kevin McGrail attended the dinner at $60 each.