VADER - Vader's City Council meeting Tuesday night was aimed at finding ways to eliminate the city's $140,000 debt, but it was canceled after not enough council members showed up.
The last-minute decision angered many of the 40 citizens who packed City Hall.
“Was this a setup?” someone yelled before leaving.
Another voice called for disincorporating the city and aligning with the county.
Others gathered outside and vented their frustration with one another as they all tried to make sense of what happened.
“I’m starting to wonder if this is just more small-town politics,” Vader resident Dean Woshnak said. “The mayor says they want to bring the town together, but he does everything to keep it apart.”
Council members Charlie Beardsley and Dave Holland, along with Mayor Ken Smith, attended the meeting.
Councilman Don Hanson cited personal reasons for not being able to attend, and Councilwoman Lois Wilson said she was caring for her ill mother. Councilwoman Carol Broom resigned last week.
“I don’t fault them for that,” Smith said about many of the residents who left feeling that the meeting had been intentionally canceled. “I can assure you, there was no setup. I will vouch for Don Hanson and Lois Wilson, who have an impeccable track record of service to the community.”
Many citizens thought council members put off the meeting to avoid swearing in recently elected Rodney Allison.
“It’s a personal problem between some city council people, I believe,” Councilman-elect Andy Wilson said about why he felt some on the council didn’t want to swear in Allison.
Allison and Smith had a 10-minute closed-door meeting after the brief meeting concluded.
“I wondered if it wasn’t planned myself,” Allison said, adding that he had a hard time believing Smith was being up-front about the cancellation. “When people ask an honest question, they expect an honest answer. This is one of those times when they’re not being honest.”
The meeting was rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday. Smith said Allison will be sworn in at the Friday meeting. Smith said he is confident the city will be able to get a firmer grip on its budget crisis and have a 2010 budget prepared by the end of the month, even with this latest setback.