ZIONSVILLE, Ind. — Zionsville is still locked in a stalemate on what to do next about the town’s finances between the town’s mayor and the town council.
Zionsville is one of only two towns in Indiana that have a mayor, which means their town government operates under a unique set of rules under state law. Town council president Jason Plunkett (R) tells WISH-TV that the mayor, Emily Styron (D), has been spending town money without approval from the town council, so much so that the town’s checkbook is way out of whack.
The State Board of Accounts audited Zionsville’s government for several hundred thousand of dollars of questionable spending, including more than $200,000 of renovations to a three-year-old building. Plunkett said it was Styron who signed the contract for the renovations.
“The town council did not feel it was appropriate to renovate a three-year-old building,” said Plunkett. “Certainly in the middle of a pandemic when it wasn’t even being used.”
Plunkett also told Hammer and Nigel on WIBC a few weeks ago that part of the renovations was an expansion of Styron’s office.
He added that Styron has put the town in a pickle because the town council said retroactively that they would not approve the fund for the renovations. Still, the mayor’s office came back and said that the contract had been signed and that if the town did not pay it would open them up to legal action.
Also, the state’s audit found that the town’s payroll account was overdrawn by over $700,000.
Styron, a written statement, is chalking the town’s financial issues to a software issue
“Unfortunately, the system has failed to live up to its expectations,” Styron said. “After implementation, the town became aware that the software firm had not developed the necessary Indiana regulatory and statutory reports.”
Plunkett said the overdrawn accounts and other accounts being in the red are the mayor’s fault, accusing her of spending without oversight.
“There were legal fees, for example, that were paid with purchase cards,” he said. “There were claims paid to vendors that were not approved by the Town Council and that is where the SBOA comes in and says they have concerns about the lack of internal controls because those situations were not caught until the audit was performed.”
The state is recommending an investigation of the town’s finances. But, Plunkett said he doesn’t have the authority to initiate an investigation as town council president. He says that can only come from the mayor herself.
The town will be audited again by the state in the future.
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