McCaysville, Ga. – The final 2019 meeting of the McCaysville City Council was anything but business as usual, as conversations aimed at the Mayor became heated and accusations came to light.
Council member Rodney Patterson, who ran against Mayor Thomas Seabolt in the recent city election, used his last meeting with the council to “clear his conscious”. Patterson brought to the forefront some of the issues that he felt the re-elected Seabolt was not being completely transparent about.
The first of Patterson’s reveals were the Mayor’s reimbursement filings for the use of his personal vehicle to conduct city business. According to Patterson, Seabolt had turned in $2,055 in claimed vehicle expenditures last year.
“That’s equivalent to 822 gallons of gas at $2.50 a gallon,” Patterson said explaining his concern and added, “That’s 12,335 miles at 15 miles per gallon.”
Patterson questioned Seabolt if he had done that many miles in less than a 2 square mile city. Seabolt responded, “I might have. I don’t know.”
Seabolt pointed out that the amount also covers “wear and tear” on the vehicle and that he had adhered to the City Charter when turning in his expenditures.
Council member Richard Wagner came to Seabolt’s defense stating that the expenditures also cover vehicle insurance: “I don’t think it’s being abused at all.”
“I’ve never turned in no expense,” Patterson retorted, stating that he has used his personal vehicle for city business as well, “I figured the $200 a month (city council salary) they give me was fair enough for me to do my traveling.”
Patterson then turned his attention to recent renovations being completed at the city park. $28,000 was set aside for renovations of the park’s restrooms. This remodel was to include five toilets and one urinal.
Beavers Home Improvement was put in charge of the job and the city did manage to stay under budget only spending $23,346. However, renovations were not done as expected. Patterson pointed out that the restrooms ended up only having 3 toilets and one urinal, and that no insulation or heating and cooling were put into place, so the restrooms could not even be left open during the Winter months due to the threat of freezing pipes.
A citizen in the audience, a former plumber with over 30 years experience, chimed in on the restroom issue.
“I’ve never seen a job that was done so shabby,” the citizen addressed Seabolt speaking of pipes being installed at improper heights and the lack of quality of the fixtures.
The citizen went on to express his feelings on the possibility of nepotism playing a role: “This man is not a plumber. He is not a qualified contractor. He’s not licensed, but yet he gets a job to go down there and gets paid by the city and his mother’s on the council. This is not right.”
Wondering why the job wasn’t inspected before payment was given the citizen summed up his feelings by stating, “I’ve never in my life seen my tax dollars thrown down the drain like I did down there.”
Although the restroom remodel came in under budget, the park budget itself is $42,459 over the original $300,000 agreed upon by council to spend. Patterson asked Seabolt why the city had not been reimbursed through grant money for the amount spent on the park, and wondered if the city would see the reimbursement at all. Patterson felt the bid process was not done properly by the city and this could disqualify them for reimbursement.
Lastly, Patterson questioned why city employees were driving a Class A vehicle without a CDL license.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, a Class A CDL is required to drive tractor-trailer, or combination vehicles that have a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or higher with the towed portion of the vehicle that weighing more than 10,000 lbs.
“Why did we not send them to Tri County?” Patterson questioned about the licensing, saying that he had brought this issue to the council before and it was brushed aside. “I just want to know why our employees is driving around illegally in a CDL Vehicle, and there is not a single employee in the City of McCaysville that is licensed to drive it.”
Patterson pointed out the liability to the city and asked City Attorney Cortney Stuart what would be the end result if there were an accident in the vehicle without proper licensing. Stuart replied, “It’s a problem.”
Seabolt also took criticism from citizens in the audience.
Tamberlyn Tanner addressed the workload that McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley has taken on. Earley gives monthly updates at City Council meetings, and usually these updates pertain to more than just police business.
In these updates Earley will often speak of upkeep taking place within the city. It is clear from the updates that Earley is the point of contact on many projects including roadwork, bridge inspection, and city infrastructure.
Tanner expressed that these responsibilities should fall on the Mayor and not the city’s Chief of Police.
“How are you supposed to do your job plus do his job?” Tanner spoke to Earley and then turned to Seabolt, “You’ve added things on his plate that you should be doing and you should be taking care of, not him.”
Tanner said that Earley’s main concern should be to protect and serve the citizens of the city, and wonders how he can continue to do so when new responsibilities are being added to his plate regularly.
This turned into a heated debate between Tanner and Seabolt about Seabolt’s inability or unwillingness to handle the responsibilities of mayor with Seabolt finally stating to Tanner, “I’m not going to sit here and listen to you.”
“Well, you will because I pay taxes here,” Tanner replied.
Seabolt offered no further explanations or defense during the public comments and adjourned the meeting.
Featured Image : Previous McCaysville City Council meeting. (L-R) Rodney Patterson, Richard Wagner, Thomas Seabolt, and Larry Collis