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CALABASH—A children’s Halloween event has been cancelled after town commissioner Daria Buccilli resigned last week from heading the town community services committee.
Buccilli said she resigned because of “unrealistic tasks” the town board of commissioners has placed upon her.
Buccilli said she was told if she received assistance from town employees for the children’s “mystery dinner” previously planned for Oct. 27, she would have to deduct their hourly wages from her $400 budget.
“They want me to keep track of all the men and all the hours that they work,” Buccilli said last week after resigning Thursday, Oct. 11.
“How do I do a function with something like that?” Buccilli said. “I’m the only [committee] chair that they’ve ever placed restrictions on.”
Fellow commissioners Sandy Melahn, Emily DiStasio, Jody Nance and Buddy Walton said they weren’t aware the board had mandated that.
Buccilli said when she first started chairing the committee at the beginning of the year, there were no restrictions.
“Now I have these restrictions I’m never going to be able to do,” she said.
Following Buccilli’s resignation, Calabash Mayor Mary Knight said last week, “I am truly disturbed over how this has all transpired. We had a community service chair that was bringing life and love into this community. Its citizens were so pleased, so excited and delighted.”
Knight said if and when a commissioner has a problem, she is in her office at town hall every Tuesday and Friday.
“No one has voiced a comment of concern to me or Commissioner Buccilli,” Knight said. “It’s just appalling—it really is appalling as they sit there and chastise when they had every opportunity at every point in time to correct whatever problems they saw.”
Melahn said spending for community services has gotten “totally out of hand.”
“A lot of money is being spent in the town,” Melahn said Friday. “The biggest problem is Daria Buccilli and the mayor are bypassing the board. We didn’t know about a lot of these things.”
Melahn said the difference is in the past the community services committee was not part of the town board’s responsibilities.
Melahn said she doesn’t think Buccilli is doing anything dishonest.
“I just think community services has taken over our town, that the town is not doing anything else but community service, and we need to start doing for the people of this town,” she said.
Melahn said “a lot of money” was spent on the town’s Fourth of July event that the town board didn’t know about. She said in the past the Calabash Merchants Association shouldered the bulk of expenses, which wasn’t the case this year.
“That’s where the board started questioning how much did we spend, why didn’t any of us know they were going to have a band, clowns, food,” Melahn said. “I can’t speak for the rest of the board.”
DiStasio said all the other commissioners have requested is an account of Fourth of July expenditures.
“We have just asked what it cost for the Fourth of July so that we could budget for next year,” DiStasio said.
Fellow commissioner Buddy Walton said the same thing.
“I think [Buccilli has] got her facts all mixed up,” he said. “I think she just got her priorities out of whack. I don’t know what happened to her; I really don’t. She is misinformed with her opinion.”
Town commissioner Jody Nance said he couldn’t comment about Buccilli’s resignation. He said she had not formally come before the board to discuss budgeting for the Halloween event.
At the board of commissioners meeting Sept. 11, Melahn questioned Buccilli about costs for the town’s Fourth of July event. DiStasio said she would like to see line items for each event.
At the board’s Oct. 9 monthly meeting, resident Bill Seip said labor should be included in final costs. He also wondered if the Fourth of July celebration is “worth it.”
Former town commissioner Forrest King said expenditures and income from the event need to be made public.
“Then you can lay this thing to bed for good,” he said. “The merchants association wants to know. They don’t know to this day.”
Knight responded final numbers are available.
“Unfortunately, in the past certain things were never considered or documented,” she said.
Buccilli said at the Oct. 9 meeting the total fireworks cost was $7,334.18, and the community service committee had a $4,000 budget. The town brought in $2,584.42 in revenue to help offset costs, she said.
Buccilli said her budget also covered for Calabash’s Town Hall Day on July 27, citing “numerous items” the committee had for other functions, from frozen hot dogs to paper goods.
Buccilli said she had followed protocol for how the committee job was handled in the past. At one time, she said, Melahn served as chairman of the committee and asked how she handled it.
Melahn responded she had a “very small budget, and we didn’t spend more than $300,” with some costs covered out of her own pocket.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.