Mike Martin remains mayor, was probe a waste of taxpayer money? - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Was Villa Hills misconduct probe a waste of taxpayer money?

Mike Martin Mike Martin

The mayor of Villa Hills is breathing a sigh of relief now that City Council has voted to let him keep his job.

The Villa Hills City Council acted as a jury and heard three days of testimony from several witnesses concerning allegations of wrongdoing by Mike Martin.

A unanimous vote was needed to remove Martin from office, but two of the six members voted in Martin's favor.

The investigation and three days of hearings cost the city more than $60,000.

Villa Hills has less than 8,000 residents so spending more than $60,000 is not something city officials take lightly.

The council ultimately voted to let Mike Martin keep his job, so was it worth the time and expense? It depends on who you ask.

City Councilman Greg Kilburn, who voted to remove Martin from office, says it was worth the money because the misconduct charges against the mayor were serious. 

"Plus the fact that we had heard other questions surrounding the mayor led all of council to think that we needed to investigate this matter and to obtain someone who was independent," said Kilburn. 

Fees to special council Phil Taliaferro for conducting an investigation and presenting evidence total some $40,000, but Kilburn says it was worth it. 

"What the citizens can take comfort in is that the process worked.  All six council members respected the process. We all showed up, we all listened intently and I can assure you and your viewers and the citizens that we all voiced our opinions when we were in deliberations," he said. 

In our commitment to balanced news, FOX19 talked to Mayor Mike Martin and his attorney, Todd McMurtry, to get their side of the story.

"This was more of a personal witch hunt than it was anything," said Martin.

The Villa Hills Mayor says he thought the process was a waste of money.

"Personal agendas for four of the council members have taken this and used a million dollars in a bank account, which is the taxpayers, to fund their efforts to try to remove me as mayor," he said. 

McMurtry says the whole ordeal was a waste of taxpayer money.

"I don't think the residents of the city of Villa Hills, the voters there deserve what they got from their council. It was a lot of money really concentrated on issue that did not merit all of the expense," he said.

Mayor Martin and Councilman Kilburn agree that the whole episode has hurt the city and now it's time move on and begin healing.

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