EDMORE — This village’s president, accompanied by council and audience members, let loose with an unguarded tirade of complaints about the Maxfield family at a meeting earlier this year.
Now it’s Tony Maxfield’s turn.
Tony Maxfield and his sister, Shari, own the Averyville Acres partnership. The Edmore Economic Loan Fund Development Committee and Edmore Village Council granted the partnership a $200,000 loan in November 2000 to build Maxfield’s Inn in Edmore. The committee also granted a $20,000 loan to the partnership in October 2002 and a $77,000 loan to the partnership in September 2006.
Averyville Acres has made three payments on their loan since then — two payments in December 2006 and one payment in October 2007.
In August, Tony and Shari Maxfield offered to pay $60,783.77, or 28 percent of the $217,084.89 owed to the village. The loan committee and village council voted to reject the offer.
‘Why wasn’t I informed?’
Tony and Shari Maxfield were present at the Sept. 26 Edmore Economic Loan Fund Development Committee meeting. The Daily News obtained an audio recording of that meeting, which was recorded by village officials after the village council voted in mid-August to start recording all village meetings.
Tony Maxfield spoke at length and didn’t hold back. He began by questioning why he is never given notice of meetings that concern him, especially when he has repeatedly requested meetings. The Edmore loan fund committee met in August 2008 and didn’t meet again for five years, until August of this year.
“Why wasn’t I informed?” asked Maxfield, referring to the Sept. 26 meeting.
“You must have got notice, you’re here,” observed Committee Chairman Jerry Rasmussen, who is also a village councilman.
“Yeah, not by any choice of anybody at your table,” Maxfield retorted.
“I have no idea about that. I really don’t,” Rasmussen said.
“I’m trying to educate you,” Maxfield said. “How do you run this? My business can’t run like this.”
“I agree,” Rasmussen said. “A lot of mistakes have been made, but it’s a new committee. It’s only our second meeting. We can’t solve everything in two meetings.”
‘This is a personal agenda’
Maxfield — whose name is on the tax records for Maxfield’s Inn, plus The Depot and Maxfield’s Restaurant — then brought up a May 13 council meeting, in which Village President Chet Guild and members of the council and audience talked at length and with obvious disdain regarding the Maxfield family.
“This all started in May when we had a great big long meeting that lasted almost three hours here at the council and 45 minutes of discussion just about Maxfield’s and the things they’ve done and they’re doing this and they’re doing that,” Maxfield said. “A lot of things that had nothing to do at all with a company called Averyville Acres. Maxfield’s is not involved in Averyville Acres, almost to the point of total slander.”
Maxfield specifically referred to comments made at that meeting about members of his own family.
“If you recall the meeting in May, it hit the front page of the paper, kind of stayed front page news for quite a while,” Maxfield said. “As Chet (Guild) said in the meeting, ‘People in Edmore are tired of being spit on,’ allegations that we were hiding money, oh, my dad drives a nice Escalade, which, by the way, is a 2005 with 150,000 miles on it that was bought on auction. I think most people in this room probably can afford a $12,000 car, but maybe not.
“It just went on and on,” he said. “There’s 45 minutes of the council basically being slanderous against the family. I feel it was inappropriate. You opened yourself up a big can of worms, basically.”
Maxfield said he repeatedly tried to set up meetings with Guild and Councilman Chuck Burr to address the overdue loan situation, but he said they told him they didn’t need a committee because they make the decisions.
“That’s not true,” Maxfield said. “You’re required to have a committee and you finally figured that out somehow.”
“You’re part of this problem, you’re the one that’s running the council,” said Maxfield, directly addressing Guild.
Maxfield questioned why he was removed from the agenda at the June 10 village council meeting without comment or notice.
“(The entire situation is) very biased,” Maxfield said. “It’s pretty obvious that this is a personal agenda by him (Guild), not a business decision by the council and what’s best for the community.”
‘Front page news’
Maxfield said the loan fund committee has been kept in the dark about what’s been happening during the committee’s five-year absence from meeting.
“The committee’s not being given the facts,” he said. “It was just, ‘hire an attorney, spend the village money and see what happens.’ It just kept going, front page news, front page news of things that were said in village meetings that quite honestly were untrue. I don’t know if anybody owns a business or has been part of a business to know how much that hurts businesses.”
Maxfield said the events of Sept. 11, 2001, had a negative affect on his businesses, plus 2005 was one of the worst years in his restaurant and motel history.
“Our motel business is down tremendously,” he said. “We hear it several times a day at our restaurant, ‘Oh you don’t pay your taxes, you don’t pay your bills, you’re gonna file bankruptcy.’ It costs thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to ever recover from this.”
Maxfield freely admitted that taking out a loan from the village was “high risk.” He said village officials promised him a 50 percent tax abatement on the motel as part of the loan agreement, but he said this promise was later broken.
“Has any project done as much with your investment?” he asked. “And it is an investment. We’ve invested in your village. The way the council talks, I’ve taken that money and I take vacations and I do this and I do that. That motel would never have been built without that money. I have to thank the village for seeing that at the time, that it wouldn’t happen (without the village’s loan).”
‘Things have gotten
out of hand’
Neil Rankin, who was hired as village manager in July, proposed a restructured payment plan for Averyville Acres. The proposed plan would pay off the loan within eight years with no interest.
“It does kind of kick the can down the road for a period of time, but … we didn’t know what the future held for his business and we don’t know what the future will be like in eight years from now,” Rankin said. “A lot can change in eight years. Something like this could be restructured again.”
The loan fund committee voted to recommend the village council accept the proposal at the next regular council meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.
“We take a lot of pride in this thing … our motel, we’ve put our life in it,” Maxfield said. “That’s what we have, these buildings sitting there, millions of dollars of debt over our head, because we don’t have anything anymore, it’s been put in there. We don’t want these dilapidated buildings sitting out there. We’ve taken money out of our pocket to make it work.”
Maxfield thanked the committee for listening to his frustrations.
“I appreciate your proper run of the meeting tonight,” he said. “Things have gotten out of hand to the point where it’s not beneficial for any of us for this to keep coming up.”
“It’s called the newspaper and it’s called secretly taping meetings and then being sent to the newspaper,” said Guild, referring to a series of articles in The Daily News, which detailed Averyville Acres’ overdue loan and personal comments Guild and other council members made about the Maxfield family.
“It’s a public meeting,” noted Shari Maxfield. “You should expect that it could go anywhere.”