Council: Benham subject of IRS probe

Staff Report

September 19, 2013

The city of Benham continues to operate without a mayor and now the city council has learned through questioning by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that $38,000 in payroll taxes haven’t been paid.

“Right now they want to know what color our socks are,” said councilman David Kidwell who served as mayor pro tem during last night’s special called meeting at city hall.

Kidwell reported council members have been interviewed by the IRS.

He advised the panel to “sit and let the rocks fall” until being informed of “where the investigation is going.”

Kidwell said as a council member “I am not concerned because nobody here is responsible. No one (here) has written any checks. I want to see the rocks fall… At this point, we are ignorant to the situation… Somebody is responsible for this negligence. The IRS is going to find out who is responsible.”

In addition to the $38,000, the city may face hefty penalties as well, council members stated.

The council gave few details during the meeting of the IRS looking into alleged “misappropriation of funds” which were due the IRS, but apparently have gone unpaid.

Councilwoman Wanda Humphrey said she had been advised by her personal attorney to contact the Cumberland Valley Area Development District in London for guidance.

In another matter, council agreed to leave the city’s property and wheel taxes at current rates for another year and then revisit the figures after the city’s financial needs are determined.

Both tax rates are 50 cents per $100 of assessed value. A second reading on the ordinances was completed during the meeting.

Councilman George Massey had made a motion to lower the wheel tax. However, council agreed to determine the city’s financial condition before action to lower the tax.

The Benham Power Board will assist the city with rekeying locks on several buildings and offices, including city hall, the Coal Bin and the theater.

Also presented during the meeting was discussion and a directive to the clerk to have names changed on checking accounts and to consolidate the Coal Bin account with the city coffers as was the case several years ago.

“Thanks to Jessica and Drew, we are going to keep things going,” said Kidwell, referring to Clerk Jessica Smith and Police Chief Drew Woods.

It was announced plans are to reopen the Coal Bin on Monday.

Council also approved minutes of the previous meeting and the city’s financial report.

Councilman Doug Robinson did not attend the meeting.