MILTON — Keyser Cemetery will be able to keep up the maintenance on its grounds following the Milton City Council's approval to release funding to the cemetery. The council had previously put a temporary hold on all funding for the privately-owned cemetery after the cemetery did not meet a financial record compliance requirement.
Reverend Fredrick Smith, treasurer for the Keyser Cemtery board, said the board was never informed of the council's decision to hold the funding and didn't know they were not in compliance with a financial requirement needed by the city.
"If council voted to hold the money until we showed proof I agree 1,000 percent with that," Smith said. "We should show what we are spending for. We should be held accountable. But the city, since I have been treasurer, has never asked for that information until recently. No one from the city contacted us to let us know what (was requested). No phone call. No letter."
After the council voted to hold back the funding, Smith said allegations that the board was stealing money provided by the city began to circulate on social media. Smith said he contacted City Manager Randy Jorgenson, who informed the cemetery board what documentation was needed. The board immediately brought the information in to settle the matter.
"The next day it was in social media all over the community that the board was stealing money...spending it for personal use, I take personal offense to that." Smith said." If (the council) had called us, I would have brought (the information) in the next day and we would have had a conversation and we wouldn't be here today."
Mayor Heather Lindsay apologized on behalf of the city for Smith not being contacted about the compliance issue and said she did not not know about the social media allegations.
"No one should think you stole anything," Linday said. "That is just a terrible shame."
Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson said she believed the Keyser board has given sufficient evidence, including four years of bank statements, transactions and monthly reconciliations, to allow them to start receiving funding from the city, with the stipulation that it will be for maintenance purposes only.
"We are not responsible for what is said on social media," Johnson said. "The compliance information came about because records had not been found. I appreciate (Reverend Smith's) leadership in going and getting the information so it will be on file."
Johnson said for the moment, the funds should not be used to make any improvements to the cemetery as the city was working with the cemetery on historic matters and she was confident Smith would be an asset in helping to work out those things.