EUREKA TOWNSHIP — Apparently even water under a bridge can run a little hot.
It’s been just over a month since the settlement of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit between the city of Greenville and Eureka Township and officials had seemingly put the issue to rest. But even after a resolution, the two sides are still taking jabs at one another.
At Monday’s Eureka Township Board meeting, several board members expressed anger with the city after the transferring of $2,500 from the city’s fire department fund to its general fund. The money, technically, was part of the settlement in which the township agreed to pay $2,500 toward fire department equipment and accessories, which would benefit both municipalities because the city provides fire services to Eureka Township. The city last month, shortly after the township’s payment, transferred money from the fire fund to its general fund, not coincidentally in the amount of $2,500.
The reason? To pay its legal fees associated with the lawsuit.
That $2,500 included in the agreement wasn’t just some arbitrary amount, Greenville City Manager George Bosanic told The Daily News, but instead was calculated as half of the city’s attorney fees for the lawsuit. The other half of the $5,000 bill was forgiven by the city’s attorneys.
The settlement agreement, however, stated the $2,500 was to be used for fire equipment or accessories.
In what Bosanic labeled a “deception,” the township agreed only to pay the money to the fire department fund instead of to the city because the township “didn’t want the perception they were paying our attorney fees” because it would be admitting wrongdoing, according to Bosanic.
Because the city’s fire fund has no restrictions on where its money is spent, Bosanic said the Greenville City Council chose to take $2,500 out of the more than $300,000 stocked in the fire fund to pay the remaining attorney fees. The fund was established to pay for costs associated with the fire department, but is not restricted in what funds can be spent on.
So technically, and even legally, the $2,500 paid toward attorney fees was not the same $2,500 placed into the account by the township because the city can use the fire funds however it choses. However, Bosanic said the decision was not a coincidence.
“This is where it should have went through,” he said.
It didn’t take long for Eureka Township officials to catch on.
“My blood just boiled. I thought ‘wait a minute, the city agreed, and the court agreed, that would go to the fire fund.’ And all of a sudden George (Bosanic) goes to the council and says ‘well, I’m going to transfer it to the general fund,’” said Eureka Township Treasurer Cindy Hanson. “It’s just a slap in the face. It’s just boom, the city did it again, (saying) ‘we’ve got you beat.’”
Township Zoning Administrator Thomas Faussett, who addressed the township board as a resident and read a statement Monday, said he hoped the township would require the city show proof the money was spent on fire equipment or accessories.
“This transfer appears to violate the spirit of the court stipulation and consent order that mandated Eureka Township provide $2,500 to be used for fire department equipment and new accessories, thus benefiting both Eureka Township and the city of Greenville,” he read. “I would trust the board would ask for a detailed accounting of how the $2,500 was spent.”
Bosanic said the $2,500 would still be used on equipment at some point and the money used to pay for the attorney fees was technically part of the $300,000 balance the fire fund had, but added he still felt the township was avoiding admittance of wrongdoing.
“We will honor the agreement because we will purchase $2,500 worth of equipment, but the reality is the council does not want to contribute to this air of deception,” he said.
The Eureka Township Board discussed the potential of a resolution or a letter expressing their disgust with the actions, but chose not to take any sort of action.