Todd Paris, Candidate for Salisbury City Council, Asks: “Is There More Fallout from the August 21, 2017 City Candidate Information Session?”

Posted on September 2, 2017

Todd Paris, Salisbury Attorney and  Candidate for Salisbury City Council

♦ Is there more fallout from the August 21, 2017 City Candidate Information Session? A previous Chapter 132 public records request already established that before she was mayor or on council that Architect, Karen Alexander brought the Fibrant “Hub” in way over budget back in 2009 and 2010. The city’s own records provide what was supposed to be a 4.4 million dollar building actually came in at 7.1 million. Her hourly fees rose commensurate with that for what records reveal to be around 190K over that originally budgeted. Remember this is the city’s own records and clearly not a “lie”. Of course this is the information that caused Carolyn Logan to be called liar by Mayor Alexander and ejected from public comment.

At the information session I did ask Salisbury City Finance Director Teresa Harris a few cogent questions regarding this budget problem in a very polite manner. One question was why this excess spending was not brought to council’s attention in a public meeting and why there was not a budget amendment to reflect the increased cost as state law required? This is important. State law requires that the city can only spend that which the Council authorizes. So if the project goes over budget the council has to increase the authorization to that amount and it has to go to a public meeting. This is built in transparency. We can’t find any record of such a public meeting. Perhaps the city can provide minutes of this meeting on their rumor control page?

Teresa Harris’ response was that she could not answer that question as she was not finance director at the time. That is correct. As the title page from that year’s budget shows, she was “merely” the Budget and Performance Manager and merely a supervisor over the Finance Director, Wade Furches. A copy is attached. You might remember this guy.

She further tells us that the reason the building went so much over budget was that the building was “declared an essential building.” At last now there is some explanation in lieu of Mayor Alexander gaveling citizens out of order and calling Carolyn Logan out of order for “lying”, Maggie Blackwell summoning the police and Brian Miller calling folks out of order even though he is not the chair. I still wonder why Architect Karen Alexander didn’t realize that this was an “essential building” in the first place and why didn’t she take that into account in the additional price?

Of course when question as to why certain staff and council members claim they did not know Fibrant was losing money, Harris just distanced herself and does not appear to know much at all. Watch for yourself.

By press release dated Thursday, Aug. 29, 2017 (eight days later) – Salisbury Finance Director Teresa Harris announced her retirement, effective Friday, Dec. 29. A copy of this press release is attached. This is three years short of the standard 30 year retirement.

She joins both John “Magic Math” Sofley and City Clerk Myra “Four Hundred and 50 Dollar Floor Mat” Heard in retiring before the new City Council (and perhaps myself) can be sworn in January of next year. It’s a shame, if elected I really wanted to ask all three of these people many more questions which will never be, well… answered.

Otherwise, it’s just another day in “the city of smoke and mirrors.”

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