Vinton City Council Meeting Gets Heated as Accusations Fly
Mayor Pro Tem Claims Unapproved Trips Are Paid for by City
EL PASO, TX — The Village of Vinton had a city council meeting Tuesday night and things got heated when one council member accused others of taking unapproved business trips using taxpayer money.
Councilwoman Ontiveros added to todays agenda an item pertaining to unapproved trips paid for by the city. She wanted to pass a motion that all of the trips be paid back immediately by the staff who took them. At one point she even wave around a newspaper article about Socorro's city hall raid yesterday and comparing Vinton's situation to Socorro's. There was a lot of discussion and then they voted and passed the motion to have all "unapproved trips" be paid back. But the mayor says the item has no meaning because there's no such thing as unapproved trips.
"No such thing as unapproved trips because the trip had been approved in the previous budget. If Ms. Ontiveros thinks there's something questionable about this administration I welcome anybody that wants to come in and check the records," said Mayor Praino.
Even though Mayor Pro Tem Ontiveros did not have the records to prove so, she claimed that were many unaccounted for costs paid for by the Village of Vinton.
"All the trips and I'm talking about thousands and thousands of dollars that have been used for out of town trips without any prior approval from council. It's only right because this is not our money," said Ontiveros.
To give some background there was a lawsuit 3 of the council members filed regarding the budget. That lawsuit was knocked down because the judge said those three members made up the majority and could amend the budget themselves.
The agenda item was passed but really no action will be taken as far as any staff member having to pay back trip expenses because every single trip taken was already approved for in the budget beforehand, according to Mayor Praino.