DOBSON — At the Dobson town meeting Thursday night, former town employee Crystal Grant addressed the board alleging that some commissioners had been abusing their power.
Grant, who was fired in May, said that after reading Larry Patterson’s comments from last month’s commissioners’ meeting in The Mount Airy News, she decided that she needed to come forward with information about unpaid water bills and misuse of the town’s resources by certain commissioners.
At last month’s Dobson meeting, Patterson asked commissioners to make a decision one way or the other regarding the employment status of town manager Lynn Burcham, who had been placed on paid administrative leave in June for alleged misuse of town funds. The board changed her status to unpaid administrative leave last night.
Grant said she believes the board is using “the good ole boys system, you cover my back, I’ll cover yours. I believe a few of the board members are protecting the town manager to protect themselves from being exposed for abusing their position.”
She cited an example of a commissioner, who she did not name, of not paying their water bill each month. She said the town’s policy requires that water bills be paid by the 25th of every month to avoid disconnection. She said the commissioner is allowed to pay at the end of the year.
She said the same commissioner also used the town’s fax machine as his or her business fax for several years.
“This occurred on a regular basis while I was employed with the town. If a fax was received on the town’s fax machine for the commissioner’s business, a town employee, on town time, in a town vehicle, would stop whatever they were doing to make sure the fax was taken to the commissioner,” Grant said.
She cited another example of a commissioner having water bills adjusted, not only at his or her homes, but at the person’s businesses and those of the person’s family members as well.
“The adjustments’ time frame coincides with their yard being watered and the filling up of the commissioner’s swimming pool,” she said.
She said in January a “regular citizen” asked for an adjustment due to a leak.
“This would have been his second adjustment in the fiscal year. His request for an adjustment was denied by the town manager. According to the town manager, the policy is that an account can only receive one adjustment per fiscal year.”
Grant said she is sure the incidents of which she spoke are not occurring now, but she said, “They will reoccur in the future if the same people are left in charge and continue to be the decision makers.”
She accused the board of wasting the town’s money by paying both Burcham’s salary while she was on paid administrative leave and a consulting firm for performing the duties of the town manager.
“I am sure these words will fall on the deaf ears of this board or be dismissed as the words of a disgruntled employee, but if they were not true, I would not be standing before you saying them,” Grant said.
Commissioner Gerri Martín said she would like to respond to the “lengthy dissertation by Crystal. I want to make sure that any citizen knows to come to us in a timely manner.”
Mayor Ricky Draughn said he is asked by citizens on a daily basis about the matter of Burcham’s employment.
“Not a day goes by when people don’t ask me about this. I have been copping out. I guess it was easy for me to do that. I should have brought it up at every meeting. I’m a taxpayer, too. I don’t want to see us waste money,” Draughn said.
No further comments were made during the meeting addressing Grants’ allegations.
Contact Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.