In early March, Mayor Doug Roll quietly reimbursed the City of Libby $363.70 for work his garage completed on two municipal trucks in 2010 and 2013. The two bills were at the center of a disagreement between the mayor and councilor Allen Olsen, who said Roll broke ethic laws.
But Olsen says he will move forward with a civil action lawsuit he filed against the mayor on March 14. While Roll maintains that he never broke the law.
“I did not (pay back) the city because I feel like I broke an ethical code,” Roll said. “I did it because it was such as minor amount of money in the grand scheme of things.”
A longstanding conflict between the mayor and Olsen reemerged this winter when a Libby Wastewater Treatment Plant truck was sent to Roll’s DP Automotive. Roll said he has repeatedly told city employees to not bring vehicles to his shop, unless it’s a last resort.
Maintenance supervisor Corky Pape said the water plant crew needed its truck back and he didn’t have time to call around to other shops to see if they could make the repair. He directed an employee to bring it to Roll’s shop. There, it was fixed for $289.20, which included labor and a new part.
On Feb. 4, the bill came before the city council for approval. Olsen voted against paying the bill because he believed that Roll had broken various sections of Montana Code Annotated. On Feb. 21, Olsen wrote a letter to the county attorney’s office asking that it look into the matter. A few weeks later, attorney Bernard Cassidy said he would not pursue a case against Roll.
On March 14, Olsen filed a civil lawsuit demanding Roll pay back the city and charged a fine because he “profited from his wrongdoings.” Unknown to Olsen, Roll paid the city $363.70 in early March – $289.20 for the repairs made in January and $75 for repairs made in 2010.
Roll said the money his shop made was miniscule when compared to the nearly $71,000 spent by Libby at other garages in recent years. He was also critical of local media in Libby for what he called unfair coverage of the ordeal.
“They treated it as if it were the Watergate scandal,” he said.
For his part, Olsen says he plans on moving forward with legal action against Roll, who filed a motion to dismiss the case on March 22.
“He still has to pay for his crime, as far as I’m concerned,” Olsen said. “I’m happy to hear he paid it back, but he still committed a crime and he should be fined for trying to get away with it.”
Roll was appointed mayor in 2008 and is up for reelection this year. He said he has not decided if he will run again.
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