Partridge repays city for moving hot tub, trampoline

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
April 3, 2002
Meridian Fire Chief Bunky Partridge has reimbursed the city nearly $300 for using city firefighters and department equipment to move a hot tub and trampoline at his home.
City records show that the chief paid $290.38 on Jan. 22. City council members signed a statement dated March 5, saying that they were satisfied the issue had been resolved.
Partridge refused to say when the hot tub and trampoline were moved or what fire equipment was used. He referred all questions to the mayor.
Mayor John Robert Smith said he ordered Partridge to reimburse the city after learning about the incident through meetings with representatives of the firefighters' union.
Smith said the city's auditor determined the amount of reimbursement Partridge was required to pay including $89.28 for labor and $201.10 rent for using a fire truck on one job and a rescue truck on the other.
Chief's problems
The reimbursement comes months after firefighters began complaining about a 15 percent, $8,000 pay raise Partridge received in October while rank-and-file city workers received nothing.
The mayor rescinded the raise in February. Later that month, the city council gave Partridge a $5,650 pay raise, upping his annual salary from $54,350 to $60,000 the same as the police chief.
Representatives from the firefighters' union met with Smith early this year. Among the items they discussed were the trampoline and hot tub incidents.
Mike Sims, president of the Local 52 firefighters union, said he is satisfied that the chief repaid the city. Sims said he still plans to discuss other issues with the city.
Smith acknowledged he discussed the trampoline and hot tub incidents with Sims and other firefighters. He said he couldn't give an exact date when both incidents occurred.
Ethics laws
State ethics laws say that public servants including elected and appointed officials can't use their positions to obtain a pecuniary benefit above their than normal pay.
Any non-elected public official who violates that law could be censured, removed, suspended, demoted or fined up to $5,000 by a Circuit Court.
Representatives with the state auditor's office and the state Ethics Commission declined to comment on Partridge's case because they were unfamiliar with it.
Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith said he and other council members are glad the issue is over because now they can move on to other, more pressing, city business.

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