MARVIN, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A dispute among local council members is forcing the Village of Marvin to shut down.
Village leaders announced over the weekend that the Village of Marvin "will temporarily cease all Village operations until the adoption of the annual budget," which is scheduled for July 10, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.
Pending official adoption, on July 11, 2018, the Village office will reopen at 9:30 a.m. and Marvin Efird Park will reopen at 8:00 a.m.
The shutdown relates to the dispute of appointed council member Mary Shkut.
Marvin has a four-person council -- with the mayor being the tiebreaker vote, if needed. Two council members appointed Shkut while one council member was out of town -- preventing a tie, that could have been broken by the mayor.
"And to think that might be because they were trying to avoid sitting with me at the table, I would have to ask why?" Shkut said.
Shkut has hired an attorney and feels she followed proper procedure as she gained the council seat.
Shkut, who has been on Marvin's planning board, said certain council members not wanting her could be about controversial development issues in the Village of roughly 6,000.
"A large majority of the residents did not want high-density development, did not want large-commercial development," Shkut said. "...I do believe there's a lot of pressure to develop Marvin...the pressure to develop is something that's felt by officials or staff but particularly officials in the Village.
Mayor Joe Pollino released the following statement:
In the Village of Marvin May 31st meeting the attending Council members were prepared to pass the Village of Marvin’s budget as it was listed on our agenda for that evening. A public hearing was held for the budget and no one signed up to address any concerns. The public hearing was then closed on this matter.
In that meeting Councilman Nick Dispenziere was out of town on vacation and all other council members were aware that he would not be attending. After closing the public hearing, Councilman Ron Salimao made a motion to hold off on passing it to give our constituents two more weeks to look it over. This was not a requirement by the village as we already held a public hearing on the issue and it was just a matter of approving it after the public hearing. The motion however did pass. Then Councilman Salimao, taking advantage of the 2-1 vote he knew he would have at this meeting, made a motion to suspend the rules and added a few items to the agenda which included his resignation and the announcement of Mary Skhut to the council. Both Councilmember Kim Vandenberg and myself as the Mayor protested the move of suspending the rules and adding new items to the agenda. (The new incoming council just recently passed new rules for the governing body that no new items may be added to the agenda within a 48 hour notice or two working days before our meetings). This measure was taken to create a more transparent atmosphere for all of our Village residents.
It is the opinion of the majority of the current council and the Village’s legal counsel that this move of adding this to the agenda and adding an appointment to council was invalid for a number of reasons. The majority of council has been advised not discuss the matter at this time.
Although the Village attorney was not at this work session meeting on May 31st, when called on the phone during the meeting, both Council members Ron Salimao and Robert Epps chose not to listen to her concerns on the validity of the appointment.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the Village of Marvin council has not been available to meet on any of these matters. By state statute this action of not passing the budget requires the governing body to shut down essential services and operations of the Village of Marvin until the Council reconvenes at their next meeting scheduled for Tuesday July 10th and passes the budget. The Village of Marvin’s full time sheriff’s officer will be available during this shut down.
As a footnote, Firethorne Country Club was scheduled for approval of a Fireworks display in the subsequent meetings that did not take place because of a lack of quorum. It is my understanding that the Union County Commissioners stepped in today and passed a resolution to allow Firethorne to proceed with the fireworks show.
The majority of council would like to remind residents that any official information will be posted on the Village of Marvin’s official website.
2017-07-03 Shkut Statement Regarding Shut-Down and Council Appointment
A review of meeting records will confirm the Mayor’s arguments, with regard to violations of agenda rules surrounding my appointment, are blatantly false. Regardless, such arguments are merely a distraction away from essential truths. My appointment to the Council was lawful, I am qualified for office, I swore an oath to uphold all laws, my 12-year commitment to residents has been unwaivering, the Statute indicates I lawfully hold my seat, and I am ready to get to work, as a Councilor, to ethically represent Village residents.
Firstly, Salimao’s agenda item additions violated no adopted rules. Secondly, whether Councilman Dispenziere attended the May 31st meeting or not, the May 31st agenda needed to be amended to address urgent matters associated with Salimao’s office and his pending relocation; which had just been scheduled for June 8. This is in accord with standards set in previous Council meeting discussions.
Per his statement Mayor Pollino agrees the Council tabled the budget, on May 31, “to give constituents two more weeks to look it over”. This placed the budget on the June 12 meeting for adoption and adoption would have avoided a Village shut-down. Because Mayor Pollino and Councilwoman Vandenberg would not recognize my appointment as valid, they determined they did not have quorum, and backed out of the meeting, just 9 hours before it was scheduled to begin.
The budget ordinance was then scheduled for adoption on June 28. By this date, the Council majority had published agendas indicating a plan to disregard State law, vacate my seat and usurp my office with a new appointee. I was also told to prepare to be arrested, should I attempt to take my Council seat. In response, my attorneys sent a letter to the Council and the Sheriff. As a result, just 17 hours before the June 28 meeting, Mayor Pollino, Councilwoman Vandenberg and Councilman Dispenziere, backed out of the meeting again.
Mayor Pollino, Vandenberg and Dispenziere, together, constitute a quorum and could have called for a special meeting to adopt the budget and avoid the shut-down at anytime in June. This was never attempted. In contrast, to avoid a shut-down, Councilman Epps and I called for a special meeting on June 30. No other Council member joined us.
The most prominent question in all of this wrangling, appears to be this: Why? I ran Joe Pollino’s mayoral campaigns in 2013 and 2015, and Dispenziere’s campaign in 2015. In my last twelve years of Village service I have not changed. My values and my regard for ethics and the law have been consistent. My commitment to residents has never waivered and my views on development remain intact. Why is it that since close friends of the Mayor, announced their intentions to develop, and/or invest in, Marvin Village Center development, and the Mayor and his majority have now appointed some of those associates to advisory boards, do both Pollino and Dispenziere have issues working with me on Village matters? The answers appear to be important – significant enough that the Council majority is willing to subvert lawful processes and halt village functions to recognize my Council appointment. The question of “why” has always been the real question and it’s time the residents of Marvin received real answers.