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Legal consequences for theft of Eatonville trail money uncertain

When the City of Eatonville couldn’t afford to continue on
a trail-building project because of lack of funding,
donors stepped in to make sure the bridges would be built.

Nearly $500,000 was donated, according to Mayor Ray
Harper, but an administrator moved nearly $200,000 into
the general fund.

Harper says he didn’t know that the money had been moved
from one fund to another originally, and the administrator
responsible for making the move has since left his job
with the city.

Yet, the money that was taken from the trail fund to cover
up shortfalls in the general budget hasn’t been replaced.

“We don’t need the money until June of next year,” Harper
told 97.3 KIRO FM’s Dori
Monson Show
. He said he could have taken a loan out to
replace the funds, but is instead trying to make the
necessary cuts in the general fund to replace the money
originally donated.

Harper said the money from the trail fund was being
misused before he became the town’s mayor, but he was
aware of the problem. It wasn’t until a state audit that
the town council became aware of the problem.

Harper said he will continue to make cuts, including what
could be an “unpopular decision” about the fate of
Eatonville’s 100-year-old police force, scale back the
general budget, and return the funds before groundbreaking
begins on the trail and bridges.

It is uncertain if anyone will face criminal charges for
the misuse of funds.

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