November 27, 2013 by wcobserver
-By Leslie Scates-
What would possess Michael “Butch” Bartholomew, a volunteer West Fork Business Manager who is paid by the separate Water and Sewer Dept., to transfer $10,000 from a City account and deposit it into a Water and Sewer account without a vote of the Council? Let’s look at the facts and see.
On Friday, May 13, 2011 Bartholomew was notified, according to Council Meeting minutes, that a Water &Sewer account was being charged by the bank for non sufficient funds. Bank records indicate that 2 separate checks, probably payroll, had bounced 2 times the previous day. So what does Bartholomew do? He writes a $10,000 City check to the Water and Sewer Department, signs it along with the Treasurer/Water and Sewer Clerk and deposits it into the overdrawn account that day. Bank records also indicate that this boost to W&S financial accounts only kept balances just above the red line for just over a week.
Knowing that this infusion of cash was not enough to stop the bleeding in W&S bank accounts and that the regular City Council Meeting had already taken place on May 10, Bartholomew calls for a Special Council Meeting on May 18, 2011 to ask for a $25,000 loan from the City. At this meeting, according to minutes, there was no mention by Bartholomew of the $10,000 transfer from the City account, just five days before, and no questions asked concerning it by any Council Member. After some discussion about reasons for financial problems in the Water and Sewer Dept., the Council voted 7-0 to approve the loan, without a plan of repayment to the City.
The next day, May 19, “Butch” Bartholomew got out a city check, filled it out for another $15,000, which is the rest of the $25,000 loan, signed it along with the Treasurer/W&S Clerk, and took it to the bank. Problem solved.
But was the problem solved? Some West Fork citizens, I among them, don’t think so. Even though this set of events is not seen as illegal, at the very least, it was unethical. In any other situation, taking money without mentioning it, spending it, and then asking permission later would be considered a “no- no.” So, why doesn’t our Council see it that way?
And why is a volunteer City employee who is paid by W&S in a position of doing this deed? Beats me, but this citizen does know that our City Council is having an awfully hard time setting up a City Organizational Chart that shows the W&S relationship to the City and Bartholomew’s points of accountability in it. Guess it all just defies pictorial explanation.
Now, we know a lot of citizens would ask or say, “Why bring this up now?” and “The past is the past.” It’s quite simple. Our City Council, in their infinite wisdom, is in the process of appointing Mr. Bartholomew as our permanent City Business Manager, no matter his previous actions.
So, back to our original question “Why’d he do it?” Because he just could!
Leslie Scates is a seven year resident of West Fork, a grandmother and avid quilter.