A nearly 35-minute special Fairview City Council meeting about the city’s audit also sparked the mayor to contact law enforcement with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department.

A nearly 35-minute special Fairview City Council meeting about the city’s audit also sparked the mayor to contact law enforcement with the Newton County Sheriff’s Department.

The meeting took place at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Fairview City Hall.

“The purpose of this meeting tonight is we told the people that we would keep them informed of what is going on,” Fairview Mayor Sid Oliver said. “Everybody is pretty well informed that we have had some problems in city hall. We called in auditors (The CPA Group of Monett) to come in and audit the books. The auditors came in and looked the books over, they found that we had a lot of discrepancies. I am talking numerous discrepancies. The auditors charge a $100 an hour, and they decided that this complete audit of the city’s accounts would break the city totally.”

Toward the beginning of the meeting, Oliver pointed behind the council table to a stack of books.

“This behind me is the water account, just the water,” he said. “Everyone of those tabs represents a discrepancy. So we did not go with an audit. The council got together and agreed upon what they call an agreed upon procedure. An agreed upon procedure is taking a certain discrepancy and tracing it all of the way through.”

The mayor then added, “A complete audit would be too time-consuming and too costly for the city. They told us that (the cost) would get way high, and it could get into five to six months. That would be the complete books.”

The total findings of the audit was not disclosed.

“(The meeting was) to disclose the agreed upon procedure, but because of conflict of interest, Jared (Thomas, the city’s attorney) advised me not to disclose our total findings. I basically wanted to explain to the people why we called them here…I would have went in full, if Jared had not been here,” the mayor said.
Commenting on the discrepancies, Thomas said, “Unfortunately, we can’t disclose a lot of information just because we are in the middle of the investigation. I wish we could enlighten the city a little bit more but unfortunately we can’t do it.”

The investigation that Thomas is talking about concerns the discrepancies.

“Right now, there is an investigation to determine what has been done and what discrepancies are in the accounts, who is responsible for the accounts, whether it is Geneva (Snyder, former city clerk who was suspended back in February by the council) or anybody else,” Thomas said. “That is what the investigation is for. I don’t have a timeframe (when the investigation will be done). It is a collaborative effort (between the city, the CPA Group and with various agencies).”

Also during the meeting, the floor was open to comments from those in attendance. An estimated 20 people attended the meeting. Bickering both and forth between audience members and the council arose, and the mayor told the audience that there “would be order in this room or there will be the law in this room.”

Oliver, grabbing his cell phone, looked at Thomas, and asked, “Should I call the law?”

The mayor then called the Newton County Sheriff’s Department.

Shortly after the Newton County Sheriff’s Department was called, the meeting adjourned.

Three sheriff’s deputies did show up after the meeting.

“(I called) because we had certain people that wanted to take over the meeting and disrupt the meeting,” Oliver said.

Thomas added, “I think there were some citizens in the crowd that felt uncomfortable. They were requesting that if something is going to happen, who is going to protect everyone that is in there. I think that it was to keep the peace, stop it before it gets too bad.”

No arrests were made.

A resident of Fairview, Christina Whobrey, agrees with Oliver and with the audit.

“Yes I do (agree with the reason for the audit),” she said. “Because there is a lot of money that is missing.”
Whobrey added, “I wish that this town would come together again. It really hurts me to see it like this. It is a small town, everybody should get along. We should be a family, you know, we really should be.”

The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 13, at the city hall.