The Fairmont City Council voted 4-1 Monday to move ahead with a state forensic audit covering 17 years in two areas of the city’s books. After a lengthy discussion, council members decided on a time span from January 2002 to January 2019, focusing on the municipal liquor store and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Councilor Wayne Hasek, who cast the lone dissenting vote , questioned the need , citing the annual audit the city undergoes each year.
Fairmont City Council members Tom Hawkins, Randy Lubenow and Ruth Cyphers. Out numbered Bruce Peters and Wayne Hasek, who opposed hiring an investigator to question city staff about their knowledge of criminal cases allowed to expire under the statute of limitations during the tenure of former City Attorney Elizabeth Bloomquist The council settled on hiring the firm of Jardine, Logan and O’Brien, with Hawkins, Mayor Debbie Foster and Flaherty & Hood attorneys facilitating the investigation of criminal matters presented by law enforcement from 2012 through May 2019 to the City Attorney for prosecution that passed the statute of limitations and those individuals officially involved in the matter or aware of the matter and their extent of involvement and awareness.
On a motion from Cyphers with a second from Lubenow, combined with Hawkins vote the council voted 3-2 to approve the investigation, with Peters and Hasek dissenting.
The council authorized Cyphers, Councilor Randy Lubenow and City Administrator Mike Humpal to negotiate a long-term contract with the Martin County Attorney to provide criminal prosecution services for the city. The County Attorney has been working with the city on a six-month short-term basis. Humpal noted that he has sent out requests for proposals to secure long-term legal services for the city’s civil matters.
Paul Hoye, city finance director, presented the proposed 2020 budget and property tax levy increase of 12.6 percent, lowered from the initial estimated increase in July of 16.3 percent. The levy increase will raise an additional $600,000 to cover added funds in the city’s street improvement program, debt service on the proposed new street/park building, a part-time rental housing/code enforcement position, for cost-of-living increases and capital improvements.
The council approved closing Woodland Avenue to automobile traffic from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Halloween to provide a safe trick-or-treat zone for families.