The town board decided to turn down a $5,000 matching grant for park equipment at an special meeting Friday evening, agreeing that the grant had not gone through the proper channels before the state awarded it.
The money from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management would have given the Cloverdale Park Board $5,000 to buy benches and signage made from recycled materials, as long as Cloverdale provided $5,000 of its own money.
Pam Burgess, the education and public relations coordinator for the West Central Solid Waste District, applied for the grant on behalf of the park board earlier this year and IDEM granted the request. She also spoke with the Cloverdale Civic League about providing the $5,000 in matching funds.
When Burgess told the council about the grant at Tuesday's regular meeting, council member Judy Whitaker voiced concerns that the board had not been previously briefed on the situation, especially considering board president Don Sublett had signed up as the grant manager.
Town Attorney Allan Yackey said he worried whether the Park Board was even eligible for the grant and said he would look into the matter.
When the council convened Friday, Yackey told board members that a call to IDEM confirmed that the Park Board was indeed eligible for the money, though it needed a certification from the town council that the body was indeed the governing entity for the Cloverdale Park and not a front for a private organization.
He came with a resolution pre-drafted.
However, Whitaker again expressed her hesitation to approve such a resolution, saying the grant application needed to have gone through the proper channels first.
When Park Board President Ron Jones told the council that his group had not officially voted to apply for the grant and Cloverdale Civic League representative Angela Ladd said her organization had not voted to approve the $5,000 grant match, Whitaker suggested that the Park Board pull its application.
Whitaker said she worried that the town could be saddled with the responsibility of matching the $5,000 grant if funding from the Civic League fell through.
Ladd said the Civic League was already in the middle of a campaign to raise funds for the park and that money was not an issue.%
Whitaker suggested that the Park Board reapply for the grant, which is only available for application in September, next year.
Burgess said she was concerned about getting IDEM approval again.
Still, Whitaker's argument seemed to sway other council members and Sublett offered a motion to table to approval of the letter supporting the Park Board. Whitaker said tabling was not the proper procedure for killing the resolution, but the move passed 3-2, with she and Council Member John Davis dissenting.
Burgess, who said she had put in a lot of effort to write the grant and make the proper state contacts to win IDEM approval, told the BannerGraphic she was disappointed that money would not make it to the Cloverdale Park.
The council also did locked horns on a familiar battleground Friday night -- approval of the town attorney's monthly bill.
Whitaker had asked at Tuesday's meeting to see an itemized list of Yackey's expenses before voting to approve them.
When provided with the list Friday, she said she said the fees were, "excessive, month after month."
As debate over the expenses grew, so too did the volume and tension of the voices.
At one point, Davis insinuated that Yackey was fraudulently billing the town for Sublett's personal legal expenses.
When Council Vice-President Dennis Padgett asked Davis whether he was accusing the lawyer of fraud, he backed down, saying, "I have my suspicions."
After about 15 minutes of increasingly raucous shouting, Sublett, knowing he had the majority behind him, forced the issue by offering a motion to pay Yackey's bill in full.
The move passed, 3-2, to the protest of Davis and Whitaker.
When Yackey was asked after the meeting whether he had any plans to leave the position of town attorney, his characteristic furrowed brow and serious features softened into a broad smile.
"You wouldn't believe how much fun this is for me," he said.