Exiting Mayor Robin Smith was absent from his last official session with the Decherd Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Aug. 12.
Smith, who is no stranger to controversy in regard to his public role as the mayor of Decherd, had faced allegations from fellow board members at last month’s meeting that he may have been inappropriately receiving a health-insurance policy which was paid for with city funds totaling $26,000.
Exiting Alderman Roy Partin had said at the last meeting that a concerned citizen had raised the question about Smith’s possible inappropriate health-insurance policy, and Partin raised these concerns near the close of that meeting.
According to Partin, the aldermen and mayor are not eligible to receive insurance benefits from the City of Decherd.
Acting on behalf of a citizen’s tip, Partin said that city officials found that Smith had been receiving insurance benefits since 2016.
Partin and Vice Mayor Tammy Holt had attorney Gerald L Ezell Jr. present at both meetings, but the Tullahoma-based attorney didn’t get an opportunity to address Smith during either meeting.
Holt reintroduced Ezell on Aug. 12, and asked him about the eligibility of elected officials to receive insurance through the city and to explain to everyone in layman’s terms what the board and Ezell are doing to try to recoup the $26,000 for Smith’s insurance coverage.
Ezell addressed the board and conveyed that he was attempting to recoup the $26,000 from a bond company.
“The first thing is (that) the Tennessee Code specifies that the board has to approve the eligibility of officials (in regard to obtaining insurance),” Ezell said.
The board would then have to vote and approve this eligibility for board members to have insurance, and until there is a vote, there is no statutory authority to do it, he said.
Ezell said that this wasn’t done before, and there was about $26,000 spent to acquire the insurance allegedly obtained by Smith.
“I have filed a claim with the bonding company,” Ezell said.
He said that it was unknown if the bonding company was going to cover the expense.
Ezell said that if the city couldn’t recover the $26,000 from the bonding company, there were other options available.
“As far as getting it back, if it doesn’t work out, Mayor Smith’s in bankruptcy, so we have to file a claim in bankruptcy,” he said.
Ezell said he could file an adversary proceeding, which is a lawsuit inside a bankruptcy, to have the bankruptcy judge declare it non-dischargeable, and Smith would still owe the $26,000 at the end, Ezell said.
In other matters, the council thanked exiting Alderman Partin for his service to the board.
Vice Mayor Holt will be continuing her service as an alderman while Alderman Richard Gulley will be taking over as vice mayor.
Jimmy Wayne Sanders will be replacing Partin as alderman while newly elected Michael Gillespie will serve as Decherd’s new mayor.
Also discussed by the board was the third reading of ordinance 419 to annex the James Baker property into the city of Decherd.
The next Decherd Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. at the Decherd City Hall and is open to the public.