Skip to main content

Davis Journal

Centerville City to make changes with non profit ‘relationships’

Aug 12, 2021 10:24AM ● By Tom Haraldsen

CENTERVILLE—City council members were called into a special session on Saturday morning to discuss how the municipality should deal with non profit organizations who utilize city services, such as city hall. In the end, they voted to make some changes with at least one of them.

The meeting stemmed from a resident’s comments at council meeting on Aug. 3. At that meeting, resident Dave Flowers questioned why a video had been posted to the Centerville Cares Facebook page on July 28 showing Mayor Clark Wilkinson, a director of the group, speaking at a cottage meeting with members where he extolled the city’s virtues, a video Flowers felt was akin to being an ad for Wilkinson’s reelection campaign.

“Centerville Cares is suppose to be about suicide prevention and mental health, not a booster for the mayor’s reelection bid,” Flowers said at the meeting.

Councilman George McEwan, who was one of three candidates in Tuesday’s primary for the mayoral seat, wanted the issue discussed at the Aug. 3 meeting, but because it wasn’t on the agenda and there was no public notice, the matter could not be addressed. So he motioned that council members meet on Saturday in a special session to discuss it.

Mayor Wilkinson was not present, but he did join via Zoom, and council member Tami Fillmore was not in attendance. The remaining council members did meet for about an hour.

City Attorney Lisa Romney told the council right up front that “the mayor is not under obligation to answer anything, and this meeting is not for public comment. It is simply to have a discussion between council members.”
But Wilkinson did engage immediately, explaining that Centerville Cares is a non-profit, not a 501c3 organization such as the Centerville Community Foundation founded in 2014 that fosters community and neighborhood developments and improvements. He said it is not “part of the city.”

Wilkinson stated he did not realize the video had been posted to the Centerville Cares Facebook page, and “I’m regretful that it took place. I believe I could have been called about it in advance but I did not know until it had been posted online. I apologize for this happening.” The video was removed after five days.

McEwan applauded the work of the organization, which by its title is called “The Mayor’s Initiative on Wellness.”

“There’s no disputing that Centerville Cares has done some great things that benefit the community,” he said. “However, its relationship with the city has remained murky.” He said the controversy speaks to “a broader issue – a potential conflict of interest – when an elected official is a director of a non-profit that receives money from the city.”

Council passed a motion that Centerville Cares remove any branding of the city it has been using, including its mailing address, city email and city logo. Romney said the changes, with the possible exception of the redesigned logo, could be accomplished within a month. The motion passed unanimously.

“It is a good organization that does need to be separated from the city,” McEwan said, “and this is the right outcome.”