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Mayfield targets Herbel in heated exchange

Staff writer

Before lecturing her on another matter, Marion mayor David Mayfield spent six minutes of Monday night’s city council meeting lambasting vice mayor Ruth Herbel for a letter she sent to the city’s budgeting consultant.

In an often heated exchange, Mayfield characterized the letter to accountant Scot Loyd as overreaching, threatening, and upsetting.

After the meeting, Herbel shared with the Record what she said was a verbatim copy of the letter.

The copy, which focused on what to do with a sales tax that voters earmarked 20 years ago for economic development, seems not to commit transgressions as serious as Mayfield alleged.

A complete copy of the letter accompanies this story.

The exchange began with Mayfield stating that Herbel had sent the letter, which she acknowledged. She added that she also had informed administrator Brogan Jones.

Mayfield: “Why were you sending him a letter, representing the council —”

Herbel: “I didn’t represent the council.”

Mayfield: “Just a minute. Let me finish what I’m saying. Telling him that he needs to move the three-quarters of a cent sales tax out of the general fund and that if he doesn’t, you’re going to hold him responsible.”

Herbel: “I didn’t say that, David.”

Mayfield: “That’s exactly what he told me. That’s exactly what Scot Loyd told me. I mean, what gives you the authority to contact our auditor and tell him things like that? You’re just one representative of this council.”

Herbel: “Scot stood right here and said we could contact him if we had any questions or comments. And that’s exactly what I did.”

Mayfield and council member Zach Collett in unison: “That’s not a comment.”

Mayfield: “You told him that he had to move the three-quarters of a cent sales tax —”

Herbel: “I did not tell him that. I can furnish you a copy of that letter. I just said put it in the —”

Mayfield: “All I know is that I talked to Scot Loyd about this. He was pretty upset. And that you were going to hold him responsible if he didn’t do that.”

Herbel: “No. I did say I would not sign the budget document unless we could — ”

Mayfield: “I don’t care about that. You have your right to vote however you want. I could care less about that. But I don’t think it’s appropriate for one council member to be contacting our auditor and telling him what he’s supposed to do and that if he doesn’t do it he’s going to be held responsible. It’s the entire council’s. If the entire council agrees to that, then that’s a different point. But you don’t have the authority to be contacting him as one council member and telling him he needs to move this three-quarters of a cent sales tax out of the general fund.”

Herbel: “I did not say that.”

Mayfield: “Well, all I have to go on is exactly what he told me, and I believe he visited with Brogan first. [Turning to Jones] Is that what he explained to you?”

Jones: “He called me first and said she’d reached out. He kept it pretty vague with me over the phone in terms of what it was. It was talk of sales tax and what was said and then he just told me what he was — And that’s when I reached out and apologized, told him if we have any questions we’ll direct them to you. And then from there it went into me and him just exchanging a couple of questions on budget. And that’s about it. I got a very mild conversation from Scot. He was pretty controlled. He had said he talked to you [Mayfield] before he talked to me. He had called me right after he talked to Dave.

Herbel: “Dave, I do admit I wrote to Scot and I explained to him that I would not sign the budget if we tried to conceal the fact that the general fund appears to be short. It’s the three-quarter percent sales tax revenue that was not to be spent. You have preached that for the last 2½ years. And Scot was the one that mentioned the tax fund being short at our last meeting. After the meeting, it was discussed how it could be fixed. But when I asked Brogan how it could be fixed, I got the answer it would take time. I did tell Scot that I had no intention of signing the budget if we could not figure out a meaningful way to fix the shortfall of $449,000. It is my duty to protect the taxpayers’ dollars, and it is my intent not to sign the budget if it would exceed the revenue rate and would raise our taxes on our citizens . . . .”

Mayfield: “Just a minute. Let me interrupt you. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a council member going out on their own and contacting our auditors and giving them orders basically on what they’re supposed to do.”

Herbel: “I did not give him orders. You’re stretching the truth, Dave.”

Mayfield: “I’m telling you what Scot Loyd told me.”

Herbel: “You’re trying to make me the villain of this. This falls on your shoulders.”

Mayfield: “How does it fall on my shoulders? If you say that —”

Herbel: “Because what started this —”

Mayfield: “Why did you send Scot Loyd a letter?”

Herbel: “He said we could contact him. He stood right here in this meeting.”

Mayfield: “And ask him questions about the budget or whatever. He told me that you told him you he was to, you wanted him to move the sales tax out of the general fund and that if he didn’t you was going to hold him responsible.”

Herbel: “That’s not true.”

Mayfield: “Well, all I have to go on it what he told me.”

Herbel: “OK, I will give the letter — “

Mayfield: “It is not one single council person sitting at this table’s authority to go give orders to anyone to do anything. We are here to vote as a council. It’s a five-person vote, and if we all agree to that, then we can send that letter and not before.”

Mayfield, who earlier this year was involved in an unsuccessful effort to unseat Herbel, then proceeded to spend five more minutes berating Herbel in yet another heated exchange on another matter. (See separate story on billing for solar energy.)

Last modified July 27, 2023

 

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