GARY | Councilman Ronier Scott, D-6th, will not be getting paid while he’s in prison. However, the Gary City Council did not vote to strip him of his seat Tuesday.
The City Council did vote unanimously not to pay Scott his salary while he serves a three-month sentence for failing to file federal income taxes. Council President Kyle W. Allen Sr. said he would have preferred Scott to resign or, failing that for him, to be removed. But there wasn’t enough support on the council to vacate the seat, Allen said. Instead Allen moved for Scott to be docked his pay
Allen’s opinions had the support of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who said that while she normally tries to stay out of council business this situation was different.
“Some people, right or wrong, (bash Gary.) Our objective is to ensure that we don’t give them a reason (to do so),” she said.
Councilman Ronald Brewer, D-at large, and Councilwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, said it was their understanding that Scott did not wish or expect to receive his pay while incarcerated. Allen said he could contacted the city controller regarding those wishes but did not do so. According to the attorney general’s office, continuing to pay Scott while he is incarcerated could put Gary at risk of violating the state’s ghost payrolling statute.
Councilman Roy Pratt, D-at large, said he could support the denial of Scott’s pay but not his removal.
“He made a serious mistake,” Pratt said. “But he’ll be (up for re-election.) Let his come back next year and run for his seat” and let the voters decide.
Scott, who reported to prison Monday, earns an annual salary of $28,727 as 6th District councilman. He was convicted and sentenced for failing to file federal taxes on income earned through his council position and a family business for each year between 2000 and 2003, and for 2008 and 2009. His crime is not considered a felony, so he did not have to resign.