CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state approved a contract exemption for a more than $54,000 loan Rowlesburg Mayor Barbara Banister made to her city that was used to pay a town bill.
The State Ethics Commission granted Rowlesburg the exemption Thursday to allow it to repay Banister, media outlets reported.
Although the state Ethics Act prohibits local governments from entering into contracts with elected officials or ranking employees, the commission is allowed to make exemptions.
Banister used the money to pay off the bill stemming from emergency upgrades to the town’s sewer and storm water system last year, saying would have taken months for a bank loan to be approved.
Some commissioners worry that the practice of mayors loaning money to their cities could increase and create the potential for conflicts of interest.
“It could make it look like the town is beholden to the mayor,” Commission Chairman Robert Wolfe said about the practice.
“I just think we need to be careful with these requests,” Commissioner Betty Ireland said. “We’re getting more and more of them. “It just doesn’t feel right to me, a lot of these.”
According to the Dominion Post, it’s the second time the commission has granted the town an exemption to repay the mayor. In 207, she loaned the town $2,000.