St. Martinville mayor brings more controversy with car allowance debacle

Heidi Thevis
@HeidiThevis

In the last year, St. Martinville’s mayor has received media attention for not paying her utility bill and for wiping her cell phone clean, and now she is trying to give up her car allowance and get the city to buy her a new vehicle.

Since she was elected as mayor in July 2018, Melinda Mitchell has received a car allowance of $800 a month from the St. Martinville City Council.

According to Councilman Craig Prosper, the allowance is supposed to cover the cost of the car, its fuel, its maintenance and Mitchell’s insurance. However, the council found out in October that Mitchell never added the city on her personal insurance, which is a liability for the city.

“We reached out to our insurance carrier, and we were told if the mayor is acting in the capacity of the mayor of St. Martinville driving her own vehicle, and the vehicle is not properly insured, the city has to pick up the bill for any damages,” Prosper said.

Hear more of what Prosper said here.

Excerpt from an interview with Councilman Craig Prosper.

Mitchell said an email recieved from the city’s chief financial officer said she needed to add the city to her insurance or her car allowance would be taken away. Mitchell said she spoke with one of her predecessors about his car allowance.

Although Mitchell would not disclose his name, she said he told her that he did not have to add the city to his insurance when he received a car allowance the two terms he was mayor.

 According to Mitchell, she is trying to give up her car allowance because she does not think her insurance will allow her to add the city, and she said the allowance does not cover the costs as it should.

“The city does not pay for my car insurance, I don’t have a gas card, and they don’t pay to service my car or rotate my tires,” Mitchell said. “That’s why I wanted to go on and get a city vehicle, so I didn’t have to worry about the upkeep of my car with my $800 allowance and not have to list the city.”

Originally, Mitchell asked the council for $600 a month, but Prosper said he did not think it would effectively cover the costs it is supposed to cover.

Councilman Mike Fuselier was against Mitchell having a car allowance altogether.

“I was the lone vote in opposition to that, because I didn’t see the need to change the system,” Fuselier said. “In the last year, I have seen more turmoil than in the other 24 years I’ve been on the council, which is not good for the city.”

In addition to the issue of the car allowance, Prosper said that since selected mayor, Mitchell has given herself and her daughter extensions for their electricity bills.

  “I don’t want to comment on that,” Mitchell said. “I actually want closure with that as far as the utility bills and to move forward on that.”

Mitchell said she is in the process of checking with her insurance company if it will be allowed for her to add the city to her policy.

“If it’s affordable, I may end up going in that direction,” she said. “If not, it will be on the next meeting’s agenda, which is Nov. 18, to see how to move forward.”

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