Unpaid bill left police cars out of gas

Police cars are running again after being halted for a day because city officials said their gas privileges were cut off for nonpayment.

Alderman Carolyn Wilson said Venice (Ill.) city leaders were not aware that the bill had not been paid because council members didn't get the bill until they came together at the meeting Monday night.

Mayor Avery Ware will not let the comptroller get the mail. He gets it and he gives her what he wants her to see," Alderman Celestine Williams said.

Said Wilson: "When the comptroller gets the mail, it's always a month or two behind at least -- sometimes longer," she said. "We've been complaining about the mail. We wrote an ordinance so the comptroller can get the mail and pay the bills on time. But the mayor refuses to go by the ordinance and continues to pick up the mail."

Repeated attempts to reach Mayor Avery Ware and Police Chief Shaun Tyler were unsuccessful, and they did not return messages.

Williams said more than $12,000 was sent by overnight mail to Quick Trip and gas privileges were immediately restored.

"We have an authorized account in Madison," Williams said. "But we're trying to change it and have one card. All of the officers who get gas would have to sign their name and bring a receipt back to the comptroller. We believe this will give us better accountability. Currently, the cards are being abused," Williams said.

Williams and Wilson said they cannot communicate with Ware or Police Chief Shaun Tyler.

"We're trying to look out for the people of Venice. That's why we were elected," Williams said.

Wilson said City Council members have voted in the past not to pay the bill.

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