A little more than a year after taking office, Lancaster Mayor Brenda Powers faces a city council that wants her to resign by Monday.
Five of the council's six members signed a memorandum that outlined more than 20 allegations of misconduct, "willful neglect of duties" and "incapacity" against Powers.
"Because of this demonstrated inability or unwillingness to professionally administer the executive functions of this city, the city council of the city of Lancaster believes that it is in the best interests of city government, and of the citizens of Lancaster, that the current mayor resigns from position, effective 13 February, 2012," the memorandum concluded.
The memorandum was signed by council members Bret Baierlein, Chris Davis, Brandon McGlone, Mike Sutton and Jesse Wagoner.
In addition, The Garrard Central Record, Lancaster's weekly newspaper, called for Powers to resign because "she has clearly lost the city council's support in her ability to govern."
Powers said Friday that she has not decided whether she will resign. She said she was "in shock" when the council presented the memorandum to her earlier this week.
"I was numb for a couple of days, and I'm just unthawing today, I'd guess you'd say," Powers said in a Thursday interview.
She said Friday that she intends to make a decision over the weekend and announce her decision on Monday.
She did say that a number of people have told her not to resign. "They don't want me to quit. They want me to be their mayor," Powers said.
Council member Maggie Mick was the lone member who did not sign the memo. Mick said she was "fully supportive" of drawing up the document, but she wanted to know whether the state attorney general's office will investigate the city police department, as just-appointed Police Chief Rodney Kidd requested a couple of weeks ago. The city council and Powers have butted heads over several matters involving the police department.
"I felt like we needed that added authority and credibility to move forward with her removal," Mick said. "So I thought it was premature to sign the document and formally request for her to depart office."
A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said she could neither confirm nor deny an investigation into the Lancaster police department or city government.
Powers was a member of city council for several years before she ran for mayor and won, defeating incumbent Don Rinthen in the November 2010 general election.
Lancaster, with a population of 3,442, is the county seat of Garrard County, one of the fastest-growing counties in Kentucky. But Mick said the current controversy is putting continued progress in jeopardy.
"Because of the distrust and these infractions, her leadership is halting progress and could reverse it," Mick said. "We've been stuck on some of her personnel issues and they're halting some of the things we need to be concentrated on, such as building a new water-treatment facility, and growing business here."
The allegations in the memorandum are wide-ranging. One misconduct allegation is that Powers misappropriated city labor and vehicles for her personal use.
For example, Powers allegedly used city employees to load her car with food for the Backpack Club, a program she started that provides food to elementary-school children to take home with them.
Powers acknowledged that she had city employees load her car. "They lifted some food and put it in the back of my car and it took about 15 minutes," she said. "If our workers can't give civically, we're in pretty bad shape, don't you think? I didn't have anybody to help me that day, and they didn't have anything particularly to do, so they helped me for 15 minutes to put (the food) in the car. I'm a 65-year-old woman; I couldn't do it."
Other misconduct allegations are that Powers attempted to circumvent the authority of the council to approve expenditures; failed to timely discipline employees who violated policies and procedures; and violated state regulations in regard to proper procedures for the hiring of new police officers.
The council also alleges that Powers has made profane public comments and denigrated the work ethic of city employees. They also allege that Powers demonstrated "a clear lack of understanding of the role and purpose of the Lancaster Code of Ethics."
Powers declined to talk about the other allegations.
"Over the past year, this council has, in open and executive sessions, repeatedly advised the mayor to resolve these, and other, issues," the memorandum said. "Despite these repeated discussions and protestations, the current mayor has continued in a course to ensure the ineffective, inefficient and unethical execution of the city government."
If the mayor does not resign by Monday, the city council has called a special meeting for Feb. 20 in which the issues would be addressed. At that time, the council might pursue formal removal of Powers from office.
Mayors and other elected officials in Kentucky can be removed from office for misconduct, incapacity or willful neglect in the performance of duties. The elected official can be removed only by unanimous vote involving the rest of the members of the elected body.
The law says no elected officer "shall be removed" without a full public hearing. If removed, the mayor has the right to appeal to Garrard Circuit Court.
The city council could appoint an interim mayor who would serve until the general election in November.
In the meantime, Lancaster waits to see what Powers will do.
"Our town is split," Mick said. "There are people who have known her for decades, who admire her and trust her. There are people who have seen the way she has led the city in the past year and believe that, while she is a wonderful person, she cannot effectively govern the city government."