The mayor of the small Box Elder County town of Mantua resigned Monday amid ongoing controversy over the town’s police department and a budget shortfall.
“I have enjoyed serving my fellow citizens and the friendships I have made,” Mayor Michael Johnson said in a letter of resignation posted to the town’s Facebook page. “My hope is that the divisiveness in the town will now stop and healing will begin, and Mantua will once again become the great town we moved into many years ago.”
Johnson’s resignation was effective as of 1 p.m. Monday. He didn’t give a reason for his resignation in the letter.
He also said he enjoyed working with the town’s council and staff members, and said they spend many hours serving the community.
Johnson’s final action as mayor was to swear in Mantua’s new police chief, Craig Hamer, on Monday.
“Hopefully, you will all get to know him and find him to be a fair and friendly officer,” said Johnson, who is also a former Mantua police chief.
The town’s most recent police chief, Michael F. Castro, was dismissed in late March after just eight months on the job. Several other officers within the town’s police department also resigned at that time.
Town officials wouldn’t comment on the reason for Castro’s dismissal, but a source within the city said officers in the police department were being pressured to write more speeding tickets in order to bring more revenue into the town.
Castro and several other staffers did not agree with the speeding ticket quotas, the source said.
In 2015, the Mantua Police Department handed out over $430,000 in tickets. But the police department’s expected budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year includes just $180,000 from fines.
Castro’s dismissal isn’t the first time a Mantua police chief’s exit from the department has been surrounded by controversy.
In January 2019, then-chief Shane Zilles was charged with misdemeanor DUI and reckless driving after he was pulled over by a Utah Highway Patrol officer. Zilles was driving a Mantua police patrol car on state Route 91 in Sardine Canyon and was seen driving in the median, as well as at least 20 miles per hour over the limit, according to an arrest report.
Zilles was fired from the department shortly after his arrest.