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    Bryant city officials meet to discuss finances

    10:45 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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    Video: Bryant Financial Director quits amid controversy

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    Benton and Bryant News:

    BRYANT, Ark. (KTHV) - Bryant officials said they have no idea where the city stands financially after the city's Financial Director resigned on Monday.

    They met for the first time on Tuesday to discuss finances since the city's financial director resigned.

    Now, accounting errors and allegations of personal threats are now coming to light in the aftermath. Internal emails between Bryant city officials show former Financial Director Dennis Edwards saying his efforts to balance the city's books were met with resistance and threats from city leaders outside his department. The mayor said she's dumbfounded by the allegations.

    "The unrelenting determination of a few council members to cast a negative political spotlight on me continues to catch good employees like Dennis Edwards in the crosshairs," said Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs at Monday's press conference. "The loss of any good employee for such trivial reasons is shameful, but to lose someone of Mr. Edwards' integrity, dedication and competence is an outrage."

    "I think she should have explained herself better in those accusations," said Bryant City Alderman Adrian Henley. "The fact that she blames a few council members for her staff and the issues she's having within her administration that we have nothing to do with. We're very frustrated with it and we feel like every time something goes bad in her administration she wants to shift the blame to the council or somebody else."

    "During Mr. Edwards' first three weeks on the job, some members of Council issued a barrage of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests on his department," added Dabbs at Monday's press conference. "He pleaded with them to cease and desist these unnecessary and cumbersome requests to allow him time to get his arms around what needed to be done."

    Henley said he made only 3 F.O.I. requests in the last 3 months.

    "I don't think there was any barrage of emails from what I've talked to with anybody," said Henley. "There were some questions asked but we're there to do business for the citizens and we need the questions answered whenever we ask them."

    "It's a sad, sad day for the citizens of Bryant that Mr. Edwards has left," added City Alderman Randy Cox who said Edwards' resignation hits even harder because city council is supposed to pass a budget for 2014 by February 1st.

    "We don't even know where our city stands financially," added Cox. "It's going to be a major blow. We have 15 days before, by state law, that we owe to our citizens a budget for 2014 and we haven't even started that process."

    There's a special city council meeting scheduled for this Thursday in Bryant where council members say some of these issues will be discussed. As for the allegations of threats made toward Edwards, mayor Dabbs said she has called a staff meeting for first thing Tuesday morning to find out more and that she's also turned those allegations over to the city's legal and human resources departments.

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