For the second time in less than a month, the Ardmore City Commission will review new members for the Ardmore Development Authority Board of Trustees.
In a 3-2 vote, the commission has chosen to maintain current eligibility requirements set forth by the trust indenture. The decision means an amendment will not be considered that would have allowed three board members living outside of Ardmore to continue serving on the board.
Letters were prepared by the City notifying Larry Pulliam, Jessica Pfau and Belinda Morris they were ineligible to serve as trustees and thanked them for their service. The letter also indicated the city will have an agenda item for Monday's meeting to consider and possibly vote to appoint new trustees to fill the positions.
"The next step will be to officially notify the three members they are ineligible to serve on the board based on the address they have sent us," Mayor Bob Geurin said. "This is about policy, it is not about individuals. The most important statement is we are charged with being stewards of the citizens of Ardmore and this is in the best interest of the City of Ardmore."
Geurin also confirmed the City is currently gathering information regarding some transactions that have taken place between the City and the ADA. Although Geurin declined specifics, he said there are three or four issues and requests have been made to the ADA for information regarding those items.
"We have some issues and concerns relating to some transactions," he said. "We have not received all the information we have requested and we need it to make some determinations. We have three or four major issues we are looking at. We are doing some fact finding and requesting information requested by our legal council."
During the course of the meeting, Geurin allotted five minutes each for a spokesperson on behalf of the ADA and an opposing side to speak. Mike Cawley, ADA Trustee, said the vote taken in Thursday's special meeting to name Interim ADA President & CEO Brian Carter led him to rethink the present board's make-up in regard to its relationship with the City.
Cawley said he had believed the ADA was at the dawn of a new age but no votes cast by new board members Gary Farabough and Chris Sandvick made him wonder if there was an agenda.
"I have never been on a board where no votes were issued with no explanation," Cawley said.
He also said if the ADA is to move forward, it must work with the City. He offered the opinion that possibly the City did not like the current board and maybe it should be replaced, him included.
"I'm in support of unity in this community," Cawley said. "We need to go forward in this chapter."
Luke Pollard voiced concerns about changing the indenture in view of current controversy surrounding the ADA.
"With the buzz of rumors going around the community about the ADA, and considering the recent sales tax issue that was defeated by a sizeable margin, I feel it would be disrespectful to the taxpayers to make changes in the rules of the trust indenture when there is so much community turmoil," Pollard said.
Pollard said he had spoken with Commissioner Keith King this week and felt he had a conflict of interest regarding the ADA because of his role as chief financial officer with a local bank, which has several large loans with the ADA.
"I feel, and I believe the taxpayers would absolutely feel, this is a conflict of interest," Pollard said.
King addressed the issue after the meeting and said no conflict of interest is present based on an opinion from the city's attorney Margaret Love.
"There is no conflict of interest," King said. "Our attorney has researched it and said there is no conflict of interest."
King also spoke on behalf of the ADA prior to the vote, noting the many civic and business contributions that Pulliam, Pfau and Morris have made to the city despite not living in city limits. He discussed prior amendments to different boards and said the commissioners are tasked with finding the very best people it can find to serve on the boards.
"Today, we have an opportunity to retain the services of three of the very best people we could find to serve on the board of the Ardmore Development Authority," King said. "We recognized that they were three of the very best when we originally appointed them and through our actions or inactions today, we have the opportunity to confirm or rescind that opinion.
"These are three individuals thoroughly invested in seeing to it that Ardmore succeeds. Their commitment to that success is beyond question but it is their ability to make that success happen that makes them so essential to the board of the Ardmore Development Authority."
Vice Mayor Sheryl Ellis, who made the motion to maintain the indenture as it stands, acknowledged the board's service and also acknowledged that it was unfortunate some very good people had been caught up in administrative mishaps. But she said given the significance of the ADA Board, which is second to the Public Works Authority in dedicated public funds received, the members should be registered voters in Ardmore.
"This is the Ardmore Development Authority, not the Carter County Development Authority," Ellis said.
Ellis also pointed out that a significant number of trust authorities throughout the state have similar residency requirements to serve on the board and defined the issue simply as, "This is about following the rules or changing the rules."