A Conway police officer and a Conway firefighter, citing breach of contract, filed a lawsuit against the city of Conway in Faulkner County Circuit Court Tuesday morning.
Richard Shumate, Jr., a police officer, and Damon Reed, a firefighter, sued "on behalf of themselves and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons and entities." The lawsuit was filed by Wood Law Firm in Russellville.
The lawsuit alleges that the city had "unlawful use and allocation of money derived from a voluntary salary improvement tax for purposes other than for which it was collected." It also contains a class action complaint for breach of contract "for hundreds of general and street fund employees."
Both plaintiffs and class members are seeking restitution for what they call "unlawful use and misappropriation of the salary improvement tax monies." They are also seeking damages for what they consider "future unlawful use or allocation of tax monies."
"The resolution signed [in 2001] is very specific when it comes what the city can use the quarter-cent sales tax for," said Russell Wood of Wood Law Firm. "What they cannot use it for is other items such as equipment or to cover up financial debacles the city has made."
Resolution R-01-18 was signed July 24, 2001 by current Conway Mayor Tab Townsell, which stated that a quarter-cent sales tax to be voted on the following month "shall be expended exclusively to improve the salaries of those employees of the city whose current salaries are determined by the city council to be under the proper ‘market pay scales’ for similar positions in similar cities in Arkansas."
Wood said the city instituted a "step program" to entice better applicants for city jobs. The program showed each employee what they would make after a certain amount of time with each department.
"[Conway] attracted quality applicants but did not pay them in the way that they had promised," Wood said. "There are some officers in Step 2 that should be in Step 6."
Wood said the purpose of the lawsuit is to "find out what happened to the money from a voluntary tax that was supposed to go to salary increases" and to establish a class action complaint on behalf of all general and street fund employees.
Calls to city offices and to Shumate and Reed were not returned.