SYRACUSE -- A councilman's email request to the city manager seeking financial specifics from the city's recreation department is drawing fire for crossing the line of ethical behavior.
Embattled Councilman Matt Kimmel sent an email to City Manager Bob Rice last week requesting the salaries of everyone in the recreation department.
He also asked for the assessed valuation of the city's recreation center.
At the end of the correspondence, he asked that Rice not inform the mayor or other council members about his request.
Kimmel's request to Rice put the new city executive in a position of possibly violating the city Administrative Code and drew strong criticism from his council colleagues, who aired those grievances in a work session Tuesday.
Rice was out of town and missed the work session, but the issue created sparks anyway.
Title II of the city code specifies that the city manager is subject to the powers of the city council but is required to report to the mayor.
Kimmel, a first-term councilman, has already been removed from the North Davis Sewer Board for a potential ethics violation, which is still under review by the Davis County Attorney's Office.
"The investigation is 90 percent complete. We only have two more items of follow-up, and then we'll review it for a decision," Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said Thursday, referring to the sewer board case.
Rawlings said he hopes to have the investigation complete within a week.
"Since you were elected, you have hammered us on being transparent. This was so inappropriate," Councilman Alan Clark said of Kimmel's email request.
Clark described the move as going behind the backs of others.
It appears Kimmel is attempting to find ways to pay for road repair and is considering eliminating some costs from the recreation program as part of that approach, Clark said, but Kimmel didn't use that context in seeking the information.
Councilman Doug Peterson, who has verbally sparred with Kimmel about the recreation department, described the email as back-door politics.
Councilman Matt Ocana also questioned Kimmel's motive.
Later, in the general meeting when the issue of the recreation department came up, the heat was turned up on the discussion.
Kimmel said it is not the role of government to provide recreation to its residents. Recreation is to be provided by volunteers and the private sector, Kimmel claimed, according to Mayor Jamie Nagle.
Ocana said Kimmel was crazy to consider cutting sports programs.
Nagle pointed out that financial specifics about the recreation department were shared with council members during a retreat.
"We have to be able to take the heat in this position," she said. "But what's most troubling is, you asked staff to violate their ethics. We want to have integrity in all our processes."
Kimmel insists he was not attempting a run around the council, nor trying to force Rice or others to break any ethical standards.
"This is incredibly blown out of proportion and political," Kimmel said of the reaction to the correspondence.
He defended the fact he asked Rice not to disclose the matter to other council members.
"Why get everyone in a huff or tizzy?" Kimmel said.
He said the information is important to him in trying to weigh the cost benefits of the department against potential revenue needs for road repair throughout the city.
The city cannot have staff having to answer to "seven different bosses," Nagle said, referring to the city's elected leaders.
"As you are well aware, we recently recodified to clearly identify the role of the council, mayor, city manager and the relationships therein," Nagle said in a July 8 emailed correspondence to the council that was introduced at the meeting as a matter of public record.
"I believe that it is important to adhere to our city code in order to ensure integrity, transparency and good governance."