Mayor of Vinton responds to corruption allegations
POSTED: Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 5:50pm
UPDATED: Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 7:59pm
Vinton, TX (KTSM) — With just one month away from the oath of a new city council the controversy continues in the Village of Vinton. Mayor Madeleine Praino responded to last week’s accusations made by Rep. Juvencia Rios-Ontiveros of misuse of funds, excessive city employee salaries and unapproved spending
"I started with my proposal of cutting this of cutting that, she said it was ridiculous it was outrageous and she would not stand for this to be happening for us to be cutting salaries" Rios-Ontiveros said.
The Village of Vinton became known state-wide after the council failed to pass a city budget for two years in a row after several political and spending disagreements in the council.
Last week Rep. Rios-Ontiveros presented a handful of receipts and expenses to the media that seemed to show a mishandling of city money within the last year. Mayor Madeleine Praino responded by saying the village has been transparent about spending and denied any accusations of wrongdoing.
"She has been here since the 80's and has always accused the mayors of corruption they have always been accused of misusing funds. I'm another mayor here and the next mayor will be accused if she's here and the next one and the next one that is the way of expressing her self all the time" Mayor Madeleine Praino stated.
Rios-Ontiveros previously mentioned that Mayor Praino had not given her or other city representatives the opportunity to present a budget proposal.
"She got up and left and the two other ladies followed it and there was no given chance to discuss the budget that had her cuts, she has that budget that has her cuts so it’s not that we didn’t give her the opportunity, she didn’t take it, she left” Praino responded
One of Rios-Ontiveros' concerns was city employee salaries, she showed us city records that indicate the city clerk was paid 10,075 in August, however online city records say the clerk was paid 8137 dollars in August.
Praino said the salary was justifiable because the clerk has many duties aside from the overall city clerk position.
"Our city secretary has to do the financial she is also the grant writer and administrator, when you put everything together you see that the salary is justifiable and the salary is nowhere near what Ms. Ontiveros states" Praino added.
Rios also showed restaurant and college tuition receipts for city employees paid by the city allegedly not approved by the council. The mayor of Vinton said all of the expenses were justified and that the college tuition payments were approved by a previous council.
"We never go to restaurants to spend money that doesn't belong to us receipts from restaurants are from Keep Vinton Beautiful we get here between 45 and 75 volunteers we feed these volunteers" Praino added.
County Commissioner Patrick Abeln said he has not met with the three representatives that are on their way out, but hopes for a better administration next year.
"They will be leaving in November so I don't think there would be very much to gain by meeting with them I'm more concerned about this village continuing momentum and going forward" Abeln said.
The new city council in Vinton is expected to be sworn in next month, as all candidates are running unopposed in the November election none of the three representatives filed for re-election.
Reps Rios, Martha Garcia and Maria medina will continue to serve until their term expires.