Davis’ attorney accuses Tryon of giving advances to one commissioner

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

TRYON – Former Tryon Fire Chief Joey Davis’ attorney Stephen Lindsay sent the town a letter last week accusing the town of giving a commissioner advances on his monthly stipend.

Tryon terminated Davis in January for paying commissioner Roy Miller’s bills with a town credit card.

Davis retained Lindsay shortly after being terminated, with Lindsay sending two letters previously, both stating the town should place on Davis on administrative leave with pay until the close of a N.C. State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) investigation into the case.

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The latest letter, addressed on Feb. 22 to Tryon Town Manager Zach Ollis and Tryon Town Attorney Bailey Nager, first asked the town’s status on hiring outside counsel to assist in the hearing. Tryon recently hired attorney Bill Brazil to handle the case. No lawsuit has yet been filed but Lindsay has threatened a lawsuit by letter to the town.

Lindsay said he was writing last week to inquire about the status of the town hiring another attorney.

“My client is anxious to move forward and would like to schedule an employment appeal hearing as soon as possible,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay also said his investigation has revealed that the board of commission members receive a stipend, and payments are supposed to be made monthly.

“However, I believe that a board member has (unexplainably) managed to get paid for several months in advance,” Lindsay said. “I question whether the advance payments are lawful or have otherwise been properly approved.

“I would appreciate an update on these things. If you have in fact hired counsel, please advise as to who that is so that I might make contact with them. Alternatively, please have them contact me.” 

The Bulletin asked the town a few questions after receiving the letter, including if the town has given advances to any board member, if the town has a policy regarding issuing those payments and what amount the mayor and commissioners receive per month from the town.

Ollis responded that given there is an ongoing SBI investigation and that the town is still involved in an administrative process relative to Davis’ employment, the town, on advice of its attorney, cannot comment on the first two questions.

“We believe this will best protect the integrity of the investigation and of the administrative process relative to Mr. Davis,” Ollis said.

On the question of pay, Ollis answered, saying the mayor and each commissioner receives a stipend for their time and service to the Town of Tryon. The mayor receives $250 per month and commissioners receive $200 per month, according to Ollis.