ARDMORE, Tenn. (WHNT) — Ardmore Mayor Mike Magnusson has come under recent fire after a report from the State of Tennessee’s Comptroller’s office was released.
According to the report, state officials received several allegations that the mayor used city employees and equipment on private property. An investigation looked into records between January 1, 2019 (when Magnusson took office) through June 2, 2022.
The results of that investigation, where both current and former city employees were interviewed, showed multiple instances where the mayor those workers to perform work on private property using equipment owned by the city.
All of said work was done during regular work hours, according to the report, using city-owned equipment, and without the approval of the city’s board of aldermen.
The investigation provided pictures and examples of instances where this happened, including where the mayor allegedly directed employees to move four truckloads of debris from private property to a city-owned lot, benefitting the property owner.
Another allegation included the mayor directing employees to use city equipment to bush hog and clear private properties owned by two businesses, at no cost to the entities.
The report says these actions put the mayor in violation of the city’s Municipal Code 4-205:
Use of municipal time, facilities, etc. “No municipal officer or employee shall use or authorize the use of municipal time, facilities, equipment, or supplies for private gain or advantage to himself or any other private person or group. Provided, however, that this prohibition shall not apply where the board of mayor and aldermen has authorized the use of such time, facilities, equipment, or supplies, and the municipality is paid at such rates as are normally charged by private sources for comparable services. (1969 Code, 1-705)City of Ardmore, Tennessee, Municipal Code 4-205
The following deficiencies allegedly allowed the mayor to conduct the work on private property without prior approval:
City officials did not sign some employee timesheets as evidence of review and
approval: In most instances, management did not sign employees’ timesheets as evidence of review and approval. Sound business practice dictates that payroll records be properly reviewed and approved. Management’s failure to review and approve timesheets increases the risk of improper payroll payments.
City officials did not follow or enforce Municipal Code 13-104: The mayor directed city employees to cut overgrown grass and vegetation on private property which violated Municipal Code 13-104, which states: 13-104. Weeds. Every owner or tenant of property shall periodically cut the grass and other vegetation commonly recognized as weeds on his property, and it shall be unlawful for any person to fail to comply with an order by the city recorder or chief of police to cut such vegetation when it has reached a height of over one (1) foot. (1969 Code, § 8-407)
Investigators found no evidence to indicate that the city recorder or chief of police ordered the cutting of vegetation for one of the private property owners.
The entire report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office can be reviewed here.