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City councilman accused of not paying rent to use city building

The Mayor of Alexander accuses a city councilman of running a business out of a city-owned building without paying rent. Mayor Paul Mitchell says taxpayer dollars are keeping the lights on for Wadley's Martial Arts at the Old Town Hall building.
ALEXANDER, AR - The Mayor of Alexander accuses a city councilman of running a business out of a city-owned building without paying rent. Mayor Paul Mitchell says taxpayer dollars are keeping the lights on for Wadley's Martial Arts at the Old Town Hall building.

Mitchell says the building is operating without a business permit, which the owner denies. The owner provided FOX16 with a business permit via e-mail. Mitchell also accuses the owner of not paying rent.

The mayor does not know how long the martial arts equipment has been in the building.

City Councilman Farren Wadley owns Wadley's Martial Arts. On the phone Wednesday, Wadley told FOX16 that he does not understand why this is a problem or why it is a big deal.

"I'm thinking that as an elected city official of Alexander, he should have enough sense to know that he can't use a publicly owned building for your own profit," says Mitchell.

"I felt like it was absolutely, positively wrong. That's why I called you to do something about it because this city is strapped for money right now," says Juanita Wilson who serves on the Alexander Budget Committee.

A church ended a lease with the City of Alexander earlier this month to rent the space, so now, Wilson and Mitchell wonder why Wadley, a member of that church, is still using it.

"I've never misused any taxpayer funds in any way. And then you find out you got aldermen over here that are one is doing it and some are complicit in it using a publicly owned building for profit, so I don't know who needs to be recalled, but it certainly is not me," says Mitchell.

Mitchell is referencing the fact he faces a recall election in November. Wadley petitioned to get the mayor recalled.

Wadley told FOX16 on the phone that he donated money to the church every week, and he thought the church was still paying the city.

Wadley says he will get the equipment out of the building as soon as possible. The mayor left him a voicemail Wednesday asking him to do so. When the mayor did not hear back, he decided to send a certified letter to Wadley.

Wadley says he's only held one class in the building since the church moved out.
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