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Yelm’s Hotel Tax Committee needs a complete overhaul by the new mayor!
Appearance of conflict of interest should be avoided to avoid mistrust!

Applications closed June 30 for LTAC funds dissemination.
Credit: City of Yelm

Yelm previously cited by State Auditor for appearances of conflict of interest, which continues

Story highlights:

+ Mayor Foster allowing the Yelm Chamber’s Executive Director Line Roy, as a member of the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC), to vote public funding for 2 of her own Chamber events, has at minimum, the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest, which can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest. The Executive Director should have recused herself from voting to send public funds for her Chamber events. She voted public money for 2 of her own projects.

+ In Business Ethics 101, that is a conflict of interest, which engenders mistrust about how public tax money is handled. Mayor Foster should have intervened to stop this. As an example, two council members previously on the Chamber Board and were required to recuse themselves from council’s action items to fund Chamber requests. Additionally, according to the RCW, Mayor Foster is required to appoint “at least two [LTAC] members who are persons involved in activities authorized to be funded by revenue received under this chapter.” He has only Line Roy who qualifies, as the other rep. should have been replaced years ago when the non-profit dissolved in which she presented. Mayor Foster also appointed Line Roy to the Salary Commission, comprised of Yelm citizens, “to set the salaries of elected officials.” There are many fine representatives of other Yelm-based non-profits for Mr. Foster to have drawn talent, instead of Ms. Roy for both the salary commission and the LTAC group.

Avoiding an appearance of a conflict of interest is not rocket science!

+ Would you agree that to request funding of the tax dissemination committee on which one serves in representing the Chamber, to vote for the Chamber’s requests, AND accept that money from the committee for the Chamber, has crossed the lines of proper business ethics?

+ Does the fact that Line Roy did not recuse herself in this situation and is running for city council, impinge on her candidacy, where serving the public’s interest must be first and foremost, not self-interest?

+ Bottom line: The Chamber have every right to request and receive funding from LTAC, however 1.) and though the Chamber’s Exec. Dir. is allowed to be on the LTAC committee, 2.) and the Exec. Dir. requested funding for her own Chamber events, 3.) yet the Exec. Dir. voted on the Chamber receiving the funds, and 4.) the Exec. Dir. received that funding for the Chamber. She should have recused herself from the vote.


– The Washington State Auditors Office issued the Accountability Audit Report for the City of Yelm on February 19, 2013. The Assistant State Auditor responded to a “hotline referral” about an appearance of a conflict of interest on Mayor Harding’s part in May, 2010.

Harding was the then-Treasurer & President-elect of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and Mayor of Yelm who “brought a proposal to the chamber board to purchase an electronic sign” to rent to advertisers and be placed on a city-owned easement at the corner of Killion Rd. & Yelm Ave.

– From then-Nisqually Valley News Editor/Publisher Keven Graves Op-Ed of May 21, 2010:
“As mayor, Harding has the potential to knowingly or unknowingly ‘grease the skids’ for the chamber in this process.”

“I believe the ‘perception’ of a conflict of interest can be every bit as damaging as a genuine conflict of interest.”

– An excerpt of the State Auditor’s results of the City of Yelm audit are as follows:
Mayor Harding should have…“bent over backwards” to prevent any and all appearances of a conflict of interest about the Chamber’s electronic reader board on city-owned land. Click here

Bottom Line

  • This appearance of a conflict of interest has continued with Mayor Foster. He appointed Yelm Chamber Executive Director Line Roy several years ago to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) representing 1 of 2 community non-profits. She subsequently submitted applications for LTAC funding of 2 functions the Chamber sponsored or co-sponsored, receiving $8,000 and $2,500 for the Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally and the Nisqually Valley Home and Garden Show, respectively.
  • Mayor Foster has the Chamber’s Executive Director on this committee who recommended funding for her organization and also vote on being a recipient of that funding, which is a genuine conflict of interest. Foster has engaged in several appearances of conflict of interest, covered here extensively the last 5 years.
  • As the State Auditor told Harding about his Chamber overreach, Mayor Foster also should have…“bent over backwards” to prevent any and all appearances of a conflict of interest, and ensure Line Roy recused herself when the Chamber’s applications were received and discussions and voting occurred on the Chamber as a recipient.
  • And that Line Roy continued to participate to vote for the Chamber to receive funding indicates she has little concept and/or regard for avoiding any and all appearances of a conflict of interest.
  • If Line Roy does not understand this concept, then can we expect her to practice recusing herself when conflicts of interest arise for her if elected to the Yelm City Council?
  • Yelm’s newly elected mayor this Autumn needs to properly overhaul this committee to restore credibility and fairness in handling LTAC funds.

Posted by Steve on July 27, 2021 at 12:31 am | Permalink

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