Confusion between Mayor Kyle Lawson, Gene Autry town council members and residents of Gene Autry have put town legislative action at a standstill until another special meeting can be arranged, or until the next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Robert Gilio, Gene Autry town council member, said he does not consider himself a legitimate trustee for Gene Autry, adding that the town did not hold a special meeting scheduled for Oct. 5 due to the mayor’s absence and questions concerning the town’s type of government.
Gilio and Vice Mayor Thressa Walker, who were both in attendance at the regularly scheduled community dinner Thursday evening, could have formed a quorum together and taken legislative action even though Gene Autry Mayor Kyle Lawson was absent for the planned special meeting, according to Gilio.
Though he was appointed by Lawson after Lawson was elected in a special election on May 7, 2015, Gilio now believes Gene Autry unlawfully held an election for mayor in 2015 when voters instead should have elected three council members who would then appoint a mayor.
“We don’t believe we have a solid government,” Gilio said. “We have to now get a legitimate government in place.”
Gilio believes Gene Autry is a statutory form of government, which means a board of trustees elect a mayor from its members. Gilio said he came to that realization when he was emailing the Oklahoma Municipal League. The OML told Gilio that Gene Autry was erroneously labeled as a charter city in their system.
Moreover, the town continues to wrestle with whether Mayor Kyle Lawson should be given a monthly salary of $400.
“Mayor Kyle Lawson needs to resign and return the $400,” Gilio said.
According to Gilio, during the regularly scheduled meeting Sept. 5, an agenda item to discuss the budget the town submitted to the state in June, including the mayor’s salary, was tabled at the request of Lawson.
According to a copy of Gene Autry’s budget obtained from the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s website by The Ardmoreite in September, the town budgeted $960 for administrative salary, $261.47 for taxes, payroll, and $10,781.30 for contract services. The Ardmoreite reported in September that these are the only items that resemble salary items.
The items were then asked to be added to the Oct. 3 meeting, but Mayor Lawson canceled the meeting and told Barbi Morgan, a former trustee, he had a fundraiser to attend on the same night as the meeting, according to Morgan.
Lawson said that Gilio then requested the special meeting for Oct. 5, adding that “nobody had time for the meeting, and everybody was left dumbfounded.”
Lawson told the Ardmoreite that he was working with the Oklahoma Municipal League to sort things out, and was having dinner with them Thursday night instead of attending the a meeting.
Lawson said that Gilio and other town council members approved the budget listing his salary and signed off on Lawson’s first payment.
“He’s running by the seat of his pants and wasting municipal time and resources when we should be working on infrastructure and statutes and resources for our citizens,” Lawson said. “Not creating chaos and stress.”