Editorial: Could Landis board have done more?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Interim Landis Town Manager Kenny Isenhour told Board of Aldermen meeting attendees on Monday a fact many of us already knew.

An ongoing state investigation into town finances dates back through multiple boards of aldermen, several mayors and 10 years of audits, Isenhour said.

That much is clear through the documents posted online by town staff in the weeks after an embezzlement investigation was announced. The Local Government Commission, a financial regulatory agency, has chided Landis for years over financial matters. Salary schedules for town employees don’t quite make sense — former Town Manager and Fire Chief Reed Linn is shown to have earned the same salary as the deputy police chief. There’s more than a decade in personnel files for Linn and former Finance Officer Ginger Gibson where the pair either not receive raises or records simply were not kept. Town residents have raised a plethora of other good concerns.

Resident Dennis Isenhour during Tuesday’s meeting, for example, asked why the town would spend $65,000 on marketing for the light fund when all town residents have the service.

But the interim town manager’s statements that current board members are not implicated in the ongoing investigation and have been cooperative does not absolve incumbents of responsibility.

Incumbents have all served during some portion of the period in question, and, as aldermen, they are responsible for analyzing and approving budgets as well as serving in an oversight role for the voters who elected them. The current board deserves credit for quickly and responsibly handling allegations once they arose. One alderman, Seth Moore, claims credit for discovering and referring the case to law enforcement. But citizens and voters alike can reasonably ask, “Could they have done more?”

While, as the interim town manager indicated, the investigation could be lengthy, we look forward to its conclusion and closure for residents wondering whether their tax dollars were spent appropriately. Whatever the investigation finds, town staff and aldermen should accept it and move forward in earnest to improve Landis town government.