Toledo City Council kicks the city budget dispute upstairs to Secretary of State, State Attorney General and Oregon State Police
The continuing of what might be called a civic civil war between the Toledo City Council and a number of activist citizens, is headed for Salem – to the offices of the Secretary of State, the State Attorney General and a referral to Oregon State Police.
Some townspeople are upset that Will Ewing – the town’s now former fire chief – was fired from his post by City Manager Craig Martin. In city council testimony this week, Mayor Billy Jo Smith said Ewing accessed the city’s main computer system, improperly downloaded a file containing the city’s entire proposed 2018-19 budget and then gave it to former city finance director Polly Chavarria for her review, afternwhich she issued a scathing critique of the way the budget was being handled.
Chavarria testified before the council this week that the budget, in effect, was improperly assembled. However, the city council and City Manager Craig Martin disputed the claim adding that the local Council of Governments, a state agency, along with Martin and a citizens budget committee, carefully crafted the budget which the city council approved this week and is now being delivered to the state so the town can receive state financial aid for roads and other vital utilities. Mayor Smith said the city is enjoying a million dollar surplus that will be put to good use. “The city is financially healthy,” she said.
Meanwhile, acting City Attorney David Robinson indicated the city will be forwarding information to the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and to Oregon State Police dealing with allegations of Ewing’s allegedly improper access to the city’s “preliminary” budget, via the city’s central computer system, and sharing it with Chavarria, who had long before left the city.
But a number of Toledo citizens were not swayed in their belief that former Fire Chief Will Ewing was doing a stellar job as chief and should not have been fired. Those citizens are in the process of mounting a re-call election against Mayor Smith and Councilors Deanne Dunlap and Terry Strom.