Mayor Jamie Clary’s concern about a possible conflict of interest between City Administrator Dave LeMarbre and the Hendersonville Officials Association (HOA) led to a delay in signing baseball and kickball umpire checks recently.
The goal was for the checks to be signed by Sept. 3, but they were not signed until Sept. 9.
In the Aug. 8 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, aldermen questioned Clary as to why he had not signed the checks yet. Clary said he saw some information on the invoices that concerned him.
He reached out to the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, consultants that advise the city. An attorney there raised some legal issues with the checks.
In the BOMA meeting, Clary identified two potential problems on the invoices. First, an old letterhead was used which listed LeMarbre as an assignor in the HOA, a paid position.
LeMarbre now serves in a volunteer position as a secretary on the HOA board. He said he hadn’t assigned in over three years. Assignors look at the game schedules and use computer software to assign games to officials.
Secondly, the address on the invoice was LeMarbre’s address. LeMarbre said that as he is on the HOA board, his address is one that official checks can be sent to.
LeMarbre has signed a conflict of interest form, confirmed Robert Manning, finance director, in the meeting.
Clary also said part of his concern came from a 2016 audit showing two unrecorded bank accounts run by a combination of Parks employees and HOA representatives.
Prior to the 2016 audit, Hendersonville city sports participants would directly pay the HOA, rather than the city, said Andy Gilley, parks director.
After the 2016 audit Clary mentioned, it was decided that it would be better for the city to write the checks to the HOA.
Now, participants in summer and fall baseball and kickball pay the city which writes checks to the HOA. Other sport participants pay Civitan which pays the HOA, said Sid Albert, an HOA assignor.
After clearing up his concerns, Clary said he would sign the checks the next day.
“It’s unfortunate that the umpires were not getting paid. I had a constituent contact me whose only source of income is currently from umpiring. He was concerned that he wasn’t going to get paid. I’m glad the mayor finally signed the check providing funding for paying the umpires,” said Ward 3 Alderman Russ Edwards.
“I still can’t understand why the check was not signed long before it was. Our city attorney apparently gave the go-ahead to sign the check and believed it to be proper. His legal advice should have been followed initially and this issue never would have come up,” his statement continued.