MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Former Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey is responding to a sworn statement that’s part of current Mayor Michele Miller’s lawsuit against the city.
Former city finance director Michele Lucas claims Cathey and his hardware store benefited from the city.
While on the job, from July 28 and fired on August 17, Lucas said she found irregularities in city spending, dating back to 2022, under former Mayor Al Cathey.
“I was taken aback that someone is uninformed and unaware of things that have happened in our city and how easily it is to find the right documentation would make such statements,” Cathey said.
Lucas points out a pavilion built at the Mexico Beach Boat Ramp. She said the project should have been put out for bid. Cathey said it was put out for bid.
“It was bid out under the FEMA guidelines all of that documentation is so easily and readily available as City Hall North Florida Construction was awarded the bid and they asked us to quote from material we quoted, we agreed to do a direct purchase agreement with the city to save the tax savings,” Cathey said.
We requested the bid and the contract with North Florida Construction and received the documents, which can be found below.
Lucas also expressed concerns about transferring money from one line to another.
“They’re commonly done as long as you don’t over budget or spend something, especially all capital expenses that weren’t budgeted, then you have to do budget amendments,” Cathey said.
Former City Administrator Doug Baber sent News 13 the following statement about transferring money: “As the City Administrator, I had the City Council approved right to move money within funds to cover city incurred expenses. Additionally, I never told the City Finance Director to move money back to any other fund or account after council meeting presentations. That is hearsay and incorrect.”
In her statement, Lucas also claimed former finance director Debbie McLeod and former city administrators Doug Baber and Michael Manning worked behind the scenes to keep the new mayor in the dark about the city’s finances.
Cathey defended the employees
“Dedicated people to repair, replace, put our city back together financially, infrastructure wise, and when I see others that now are in office, specifically the mayor who so blatantly takes so lightly all of the hard work and what in the position that she has found our city in this regard that I can’t, I can’t speak for them,” Cathey said.
Click here to find the full sworn statement.