Parma mayor letting go some city employees; says he ‘wants to start fresh’

Updated: Apr. 22, 2019 at 2:03 PM CDT
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PARMA, MO (KFVS) - The new mayor of Parma said he’s letting go five city employees in the midst of an arson investigation and a requested audit.

Parma Mayor Rufus Williamson said on Friday, April 19 he will be letting go five employees because he “wants to start fresh.”

On Monday, April 22, Kim Hampton, assistant to the mayor’s office, told us more about those employees. They include: Fire Chief Richard Boyd, Parma’s only police officer Terry Elmore, David Thatch with water and sewer maintenance, City Collector Yvonne Lucas and City Clerk Helen Frye.

There’s no word on who will fill those positions.

According to New Madrid County Sheriff Terry Stevens, the sheriff’s department will be working law enforcement for the city of Parma.

The request for an audit was made by the City of Parma, Missouri for State Auditor Nicole Galloway to look into questionable financial activity.

As a city, they agreed to hire an attorney to help them work through the audit.

According to Galloway, the request was made after a complaint came in to her Whistleblower Hotline and an investigation by the Public Corruption and Fraud Division.

“When there are allegations of potential fraud or mismanagement, my public corruption team will investigate the concerns. That’s exactly what happened in Parma, where our investigation is going to result in an audit request by the city,” Auditor Galloway said. “Our independent review will take a close look at the finances of the city and determine the facts.”

Galloway said the complaint featured concerns related to the city’s operations under the mayor.

The concerns included the city’s financial status; payroll, payroll taxes and salaries of city employees; expenditures made by the city; the level of financial oversight; and management and maintenance of city equipment, assets and infrastructure.

Those allegations were found to be credible, according to Galloway’s office.

The mayor and the board of aldermen met on Thursday, April 18 for a special closed meeting for 3 hours.

They will meet again for a public meeting on May 7.

Earlier this month, the mayor lost reelection. A new mayor and city council member were sworn in on Tuesday, April 16.

“We need to know how bad of shape we’re in, because I think we’re gonna start from scratch. I don’t think we have anything, and it’s just gonna be tough, so we have to have that in black and white,” said Mayor Rufus Williamson.

According to Williamson, he started considering an audit request when running for mayor.

“We didn’t think anything was going wrong, but when we get an audit, we don’t have to think about that anymore. It fixes the situation. That’s the reason we was getting the audit, we was getting the audit so we would know exactly where we were," said Williamson.

As all of Parma waits for answers, Williamson is staying positive about their future.

“Regardless of what anybody says, we are gonna get the city back up," he said.

This comes after a fire broke out at the former mayor’s home as well as city hall and the police department.

According to Galloway’s office, investigators from her officer were at the scene of the fires and their work was specifically related to the audit of the City of Parma.

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