By Grace Moore
At the council meeting Monday night, Mayor Steve Sproul, as is appropriate this time of year, announced his appointments for the town’s standing committees. However, there was discord between the mayor and council regarding Sproul’s desire to appoint personal advisors and associates for the positions and give said advisors the title of finance committee.
The council cited an email sent from town attorney Jim Peck earlier in the day specifically regarding this situation, which Councilman Paul Smoot read aloud.
“Can a mayor appoint his or her own committee not provided for by the ordinance? There is no Wyoming statute about committees so arguably the mayor or council could appoint whomever he/she wants…but that would not mean the committee or the members would have any authorization on behalf of the governing body of the municipality,” Smoot read.
“[They] would only serve as personal advisors to the mayor or council member; the only records they should see are the records subject to disclosure under the public record laws.”
Councilman Owen Mathews explained that his opposition to a finance committee made up of members of the public does not diminish his acceptance of the right of the public to go through the public records or the mayor’s right to employ friends as his personal advisors.
However, according to Mathews, “You try to designate a finance committee…in violation of what the ordinance is … not in compliance with the ordinance. You are trying to go against the ordinance.”
Claar agreed, saying that he has nothing against the mayor and his associates, “going over those public records, but they are not officially the finance committee”.
The mayor argued that the ordinance says simply that two council members have to be on the committee. “You can read it however you want…It doesn’t say you can’t have them on there,” he said.
The mayor acquiesced to one more councilman being appointed onto the committee and Claar accepted the invitation to become the second councilman, along with Councilman Paul Smoot, to make up the actual committee with the mayor.
Because of this as yet unresolved issue, the rest of the appointments were tabled until Peck is on hand to further define “finance committee”.