Mayor reimburses town for unverified purchases

WAXHAW – Waxhaw Mayor Daune Gardner has reimbursed the town roughly $450 for unverified and alcohol purchases made around the time of Gardner’s arrest on driving while impaired charges this summer.

A special meeting was held Monday, Dec. 9, at which the Waxhaw Board of Commissioners asked Gardner to reimburse the town for purchases where receipts were either missing or did not include an itemized list of what was purchased.

Around the same time of Gardner’s June 10 arrest on a charge of driving while impaired, commissioners were told of the mayor’s failure to provide receipts for charges on the town’s credit card in a timely manner. Roughly $115 in purchases were lacking receipts, $304 were lacking itemized receipts and $31 was documented as being spent on alcohol, according to reports provided during the meeting.

“None of the receipts were within our policy’s time frame – that is 90 days – during that time the mayor was arrested,” former commissioner Erin Kirkpatrick said during the meeting. Kirkpatrick was not re-elected in November and stepped down Tuesday when the new council was sworn in.

“In all fairness, it’s the responsibility of the mayor to follow the policy,” Commissioner Sean Poccia said during the meeting. “… I think in all fairness I will ask the mayor to reimburse the town.”

Former commissioner Brett Diller, who also stepped down Tuesday, doesn’t want the spending discussion to stop with reimbursement. During the special meeting, he discussed the need for the new board to implement a system that will prevent such a problem from happening again. Although the mayor was responsible for her receipts, Poccia said the town manager also should have cancelled the credit card after the extended period of time without receiving receipts.

Commissioners also discussed the budget line items that were previously suspended in relation to the mayor’s travel expenses and credit card, but no further action was taken. The new board will have to make the decision on whether to take action, whether it be reinstating the budget items or continuing to limit the mayor’s town expense privileges. Various items related to Gardner’s travel expenses and reimbursement policies were included on the Dec. 10 meeting agenda, but prior to the adoption of the agenda Gardner made a motion to remove the items.

During the Dec. 9 meeting, Kirkpatrick made a motion, which was not adopted by the board, to maintain the mayor’s suspension for the rest of this budget year and her term.

“I would like to motion that there are no funds allowed for this budget year, and I would also make a recommendation to the new board to not allow those budget items for the remainder of her term,” Kirkpatrick said.

Other commissioners argued that decisions related to future budget line items for the mayor should be left to the new board.

“We certainly aren’t happy with the mayor’s actions, but that aside, she is still the mayor,” Poccia said. “Am I disappointed? There isn’t a person in this room who isn’t, but there is still a lot of value to the mayor. … We can either live in the past or look forward.”

The board did approve a motion, with a 4-1 vote, to allow Gardner to present, case by case, any funds she may need to attend events after the $450 is paid back to the town. Kirkpatrick was the sole opposing vote.

“I hope (the mayor) does the right thing for the next two years for the sake of Waxhaw and for her sake,” Diller said.

Monday’s special meeting also had a number of other items up for discussion and possible action, but the board voted to limit the meeting to only the mayor’s spending. Some commissioners felt it necessary to leave the other items up to the recently elected board.

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