A recent reappraisal on properties in Izard County uncovered the fact that an elected official did not meet residential requirements to hold municipal office.
According to the Izard County Assessor’s office, during a reappraisal conducted in August of this year, a discrepancy was found on property owned by Mike Warden, mayor of Oxford. Warden’s residence, built in 2001, was added to the tax rolls in 2001, and was listed as sitting on property in the City of Oxford.
Only it wasn’t.
According to the city limit layer map, Warden’s home is located on a parcel outside of the city limits, not on city property.
“The city limit layer map shows he is rural,” stated County Assessor Tammy Sanders. “He was contacted sometime between August 28 and September 17 and told about the change.”
Once the discovery was made, Sanders checked with the county to see if the property had been annexed to the City of Oxford and if they had somehow missed it. It was then discovered that Warden had filed a petition for annexation of the property where his home actually sits, with County Clerk Rhonda Halbrook in March of 2002; however, he never followed through with the paperwork, filed as CO-2002-1.
“It was filed,” said Halbrook. “But nothing done afterwards.”
Warden filed for office that same year and was elected in November of 2002, and has served in the capacity of mayor for the city just shy of 11 years. Prior to the election, Warden served as Director of the Office of Emergency Services for Izard County in Melbourne, from December of 1998 through March of 2000.
The City Council of Oxford met for their monthly meeting on October 15, and discussed the residency issue with Warden in executive session after regular business was conducted.
Following the executive session, the meeting was adjourned with Alderman Mike Hall and Warden leaving the building immediately, before the audience could re-enter the council chambers. Council members told the 25+ audience members that Warden volunteered to resign.
“Well, does he live in the City of Oxford,” asked resident Phyllis McCurley, to which Alderman Randy Sherrell replied, “Warden says he does, but the county says he doesn’t.”
Warden resigned effective October 17.
Mike Hall resigned October 16.