When You Fail to Pass A Budget? Close the Town Down
Aaaah small town politics.
The City of Lexington OR is a small burb, population 238 people about 30 miles due south of Boardman, in Morrow County. It's received distinction now as the first Oregon city or town in decades to be officially 'closed' due to lack of a budget.
According to various sources, Mayor Marcia Kemp has been at odds with several city council members over the filling of an at-large seat. That has led to several 'rowdy' and disruptive council meetings of the last few months.
Then last Thursday, Kemp said because those city council members failed to attend a meeting during which a budget vote was slated to take place, there wasn't enough of a quorum (number required) to vote. Therefore, according to the Oregon State Department of Revenue, the city could not spend money July 1 and beyond. They failed to pass a budget by June 30th.
Kemp reportedly notified the two city employees (clerk and recorder and maintenance worker) they were off work til further notice, collected keys, and locked City Hall. A recorded message says Lexington is 'closed.'
Until the budget situation is resolved residents cannot get permits, pay utility bills in person or other services normally found in a city hall. And the city will not be able to pay it's bills. Morrow County officials plan to reach out to the Mayor and others to see how they can help. But some county officials say this isn't the first time Lexington has had similar issues. One source described them as teetering on the edge of incorporation.
Three of the town's 4 council members were the ones who failed to show up for the budget meeting. For more on this unusual story click on the button below.