A North Pole City Council seat was left vacant after Thomas McGhee submitted his resignation Dec. 22 following a special meeting. The resignation, effective Dec. 31, was accepted by the city council at its Jan. 3 meeting.
In his resignation letter, McGhee wrote he was “more than disappointed in the performance of the North Pole City Council and the Mayor than I have been over the last two years.”
McGhee added that he could not in good conscience continue and only stayed “to ensure the city of North Pole employees’ interests and security were protected.”
But the final straw was a Dec. 22 vote deciding how to expend a remaining $132,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding before a Dec. 31 deadline. McGhee told the News-Miner Friday that a resolution had been proposed at a previous meeting to distribute the money to the two companies. He asked the council to postpone a decision until a special meeting because the requests didn’t fit CARES Act guidelines.
“I asked for the council to have some breathing room to make a decision,” McGhee said.
The city council voted on Dec. 21 6-1 to allocate $84,000 to LOVE, Inc. and $48,000 to nonprofit KNJP Radio/Calvary Northern Lights.
KNJP requested funding to replenish funds used for volunteer assistance that operate the station and for building maintenance. LOVE, Inc. said it would use the funding to provide relief to North Pole residents for items such as utility or rental assistance.
McGhee told the News-Miner he proposed an amendment to allocate the $132,000 to 31 businesses at $4,000 a piece, including LOVE and KJNP.
“There were 31 businesses with active permits that were directly affected by the pandemic and that list of businesses consisted of day care centers, learning centers and local food services,” McGhee said.
McGhee said his amendment died for lack of a second motion and the original resolution was passed. The decision, he said, prompted him to submit resignation.
North Pole Mayor Mike Welch said there was little to no discussion about McGhee’s resignation after it was accepted on Jan. 3.
“The council considered Jan. 3 and including myself, voted 6-0 to accept it,” Welch said Friday.
Welch added the time frame in which 31 businesses could distribute required paperwork to the city to be considered was too close to the Dec. 31 federal deadline. CARES Act funds were required to be expended or distributed by Dec. 31, or returned to the federal government.
Welch said the city of North Pole will advertise McGhee’s vacant seat and the council will appoint a person to fill out the remainder of the term, which expires in October.
“We have two people so far that want to be considered but will need to submit applications,” Welch said. “The council will receive the applications, review the applicants and appoint someone.”