Tryon to appoint new commissioner to replace Miller by Sept. 1

Published 10:00 pm Monday, May 1, 2017

Miller received pay advances; owes town $3,690 in taxes

TRYON– The Town of Tryon will have to appoint a commissioner to replace current commissioner Roy Miller within 90 days of Miller’s effective resignation of June 1.

Miller resigned as commissioner in March and was charged federally on April 12 for federal program fraud conspiracy, federal program fraud, extortion under color of official right and witness tampering.

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Former Tryon Fire Chief Joey Davis, who was fired in January after it was discovered he used town credit cards to pay some of Miller’s bills, was also charged federally with federal program fraud conspiracy.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said the town has to appoint another commissioner within 90 days of the resignation and that person will also have to file to run in the 2017 election to finish out Miller’s remaining two years of his four-year term. Filing for town elections is normally done in July prior to a November election. Miller’s term is up in 2019.

The Bulletin asked the mayor and town manager Zach Ollis a few questions last week regarding Miller receiving advances on his $200 per month stipend for being a commissioner, and owing $3,690 in back taxes to the town.

The Bulletin also asked the Town of Columbus, City of Saluda and Polk County if they give advances to elected officials or town/city/county employees and all local managers said they do not allow advances in pay for elected officials or employees.

Miller does not currently owe county taxes, according to the Polk County tax office.

Between 2010 – 2016, Miller received 12 advances on his pay from the town, including from two months to six months’ pay at a time, ranging from $329 to $1,005. Ollis said Miller has not received any advances since he (Ollis) was hired last year. 

Peoples said Tryon does not currently have a policy regarding elected officials receiving advance pay from the town. Peoples said the town is looking into some policy changes moving forward.

Ollis said the town is currently working on a number of policies that cover many areas.

“One area to be focused on heavily is finance,” said Ollis, “especially credit card usage. We will also work to create policies regarding advance pay.”

The Bulletin also asked Peoples and Ollis why Miller has been allowed to go years without paying taxes and if the town has a payment policy Miller may be following that other residents are also afforded. 

Peoples said he cannot comment on that question prior to speaking to the town’s attorney.

Ollis said he cannot speak on how things were done in the past.

“All residents have the ability to work with the town regarding their tax situation and payment plans,” said Ollis.

Peoples did add that Tryon has garnished wages for payments and specified that he wasn’t saying whose wages have been garnished or for what purpose they were garnished.

Polk County does garnish wages for tax collections.

Miller owes back taxes to Tryon on two properties, according to Ollis.

The Bulletin also asked Tryon if Miller owes the town anything for his water/sewer/garbage services from the town.

According to Tryon’s attorney and N.C. General Statutes, public enterprise billing information is not public record.

“Billing information compiled and maintained by a city or county or other public entity providing utility services in connection with the ownership or operation of a public enterprise, excluding airports, is not a public record,” states N.C. General Statute 132-1.1.

Miller resigned during Tryon Town Council’s March meeting and stated at the time he would have more to say regarding his resignation during the town’s April meeting. Tryon met on April 18 but Miller did not attend and did not comment when asked by the Bulletin why he did not attend the meeting. Miller also did not return a message for comment on his advance pay and taxes.

Miller and Davis are both scheduled to appear federal court in Asheville on June 19.

Tryon’s next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 16.