SALEM, W.Va. – A group of concerned citizens attended the Salem City Council meeting Monday night to address concerns related to city finances.

A spokesperson for community members, Geoffrey Steele, who is a former resident of Salem, said there are inconsistencies and no answers from council members. He also stated there are allegations against Mayor Bobby Samples of unethical behavior and misappropriation of funds involving giving $5,000 to the Salem Apple Butter Festival.

“Because his [the mayor’s] wife sits as treasurer on the Apple Butter Festival, he should have recused himself from that vote. And, we’re just seeing a lot of that going on. We’re seeing a lot of council being involved in businesses and making decisions that they really should have recused themselves from the vote, actually recused themselves from that room, just to keep everything legitimate,” said Steele.

Also discussed at the meeting was a referendum of recall of council. The people in charge of the petition added it was not handled properly when it was turned in.

“So, the initiative and referendum we turned in should have provided us with a special election, and we were denied that right,” Steele said. “And, there was a certain time period that it had to be done in, and, unfortunately, that time period passed, and so we had no other choice but to take further action because we’ve been fighting this battle for quite a while, and we just want to be heard as a community, as concerned citizens.”

Steele stated that the mayor gave Harrison County Commission wrong information under false pretenses to lower the costs of water and sewer rates. He also stated that those funds were never deposited into an account to accrue funds.

“Ever since that water and sewer hike has come up, it has really hurt the people of Salem. Not only that, but our property taxes are like 17% here, and people in Clarksburg and Bridgeport don’t even pay that,” Steele said. “So, we are literally paying out the wazoo to live in a town that is falling down around us, that has a really bad problem with drug addiction, breaking and entering.”

Steele said until the city can get a new sewage treatment plant, the city is under a building moratorium, meaning no new structures can be developed in Salem. He also said that instead of tearing down buildings, funds should be used to preserve what currently exists.

No one on Salem City Council provided comment, as the council went into executive session.