City also looking to potentially terminate legal counsel
The City of Napavine is suffering from an assortment of complex problems that the Napavine City Council hasn't been able to correct. The issues surrounding our little city on the hill range from allegations of fraud by a city official, to an uncooperative and defiant city attorney who refuses to go away.
This story begins with several city employees who wish to remain anonymous who reached out to the Town Crier with an allegation. The anonymous sources allege that they witnessed Mayor John Sayers use city personnel to work on his personal vehicle. While it is illegal for Mayor Sayers to require city employees to work on his personal vehicle, the seriousness of the allegation is compounded by the possibility it was done on city time, with city equipment. The Town Crier made inquires to Mayor Sayers regarding the allegations and he did not deny them.
The actions taken by the city attorney are more difficult to understand. Initially the Napavine City Council had "Resolution 17-04-77 Terminate Retainer Agreement with City Attorney" on their meeting agenda. The agenda for the city council meeting was published. Then the day of the meeting it was amended at the request of City Attorney William Hillier.
The unchanged agenda placed the executive session at the end of the meeting, but according to the city clerk, Hillier asked that the agenda be amended so that the executive session was placed at the beginning of the meeting.
The executive session portion of the agenda listed two items that were to be discussed. These were "legal issues regarding water rights" and "city attorney."
According to city officials, the legal issues regarding water rights pertained to Well 6 and the politics surrounding it. The Town Crier was able to obtain a portion of the memo handed out during the executive session where Bill Hiller included, "If the City does not put these water rights to beneficial use, then it [Napavine] risks losing them." The memo distributed by the city attorney directly contradicts RCW 90.14.120(2)(d), which states "There shall be no relinquishment of any water right if such right is claimed for municipal water supply purposes."
The most important issue has been the city council's desire to terminate the city attorney's appointed position. The resolution to terminate the city attorney has been on the agenda for several weeks, but it has yet to be discussed or passed. The city council, being the legislative body, has complete control of the contract and its contents. The current contract the city has with the firm of Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly clearly states, "Either party may terminate this Agreement and the relationship created hereunder upon ninety (90) days written notice to the other party." This means that the city council can terminate the contract at any time as long as they pass the motion with a majority.
The Town Crier has spoken with all five members of the city council, four of whom want new legal counsel for the city immediately. Bill Hillier stated, "The law says that the city attorney serves at the pleasure of the mayor. It's up to the mayor solely to fire us." It's now up to the city council to cancel the contract with Hillier, Scheibmeir and Kelly.
The next city council meeting will be April 25 at 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.