Mansfield City Council To Vote On Mayoral Duties At January Meeting

MANSFIELD(KFSM) - In a special meeting Thursday(Dec. 28) night, the city council discussed the Mayor's duties amid the ongoing boil order issue.

City council members attempted to transfer Mayor Larry Austin's powers to recorder and treasurer Becky Walker by unanimously voting to replace the word "Mayor" in the personnel policy handbook to "Recorder/Treasurer", but Austin vetoed that vote.

Austin also vetoed an amendment passed by city council members to meet once a week, instead of once a month.

Mansfield City Attorney Matt Ketcham told 5NEWS the council will likely vote the throw out those vetoes at the next regularly scheduled meeting on January 18.

"I have every belief from what took place tonight with a unanimous passage by the council that at the regular scheduled meeting in January, they will override his veto with a two-thirds vote, "said Ketcham.

The Mayor can only be removed from office in the next general election, by petition, by the mayor appointing a resident or by the city council voting to transfer powers, according to Ketcham.

The meeting was called to address how Austin handled the ongoing boil order.

Council members said he has done nothing to fix the problem, but Austin defended himself saying he has worked to find a solution.

Austin hired Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen to represent him.

"I think we have rules of law in this country and and we have to follow that, " said McCutchen, "Tonight I think we saw that rules of law weren’t followed even when it came to a simple motion to adjourn a meeting.

McCutchen told 5NEWS at the meeting he plans to file a lawsuit.

"We will ask for a temporary restraining order so that laws can be properly followed," McCutchen said.

The next special meeting in Mansfield is scheduled for January 4.