State audit: Former city finance officer used taxpayer cash for her utility payments and different questionable purchases

State Auditor Beth Wooden

An investigative audit into spending within the small Scotland County city of East Laurinburg discovered {that a} former finance director used city cash to pay her utility payments and used taxpayer {dollars} to make purchases with out displaying these bills had been linked to city enterprise.

In consequence, the city’s checking account was overdrafted and it couldn’t cowl working bills, the audit stated.

The city has been in hassle with the Native Authorities Fee, a state authorities physique that critiques municipal funds and approves their borrowing. State Auditor Beth Wooden is a member of the fee.

East Laurinburg has not submitted annual monetary audits for 2017, 2018, 2019, or 2020. The Native Authorities Fee advisable earlier this yr that East Laurinburg lose its constitution. Stripping a city of its constitution requires laws, and lawmakers haven’t acted on the fee’s advice.

The city’s former finance officer, who was not named within the state audit launched Wednesday, wrote $2,674 in checks from the city’s account from Might 2017 to January 2011 to pay her utility payments. She labored for the city from December 2016 via March 2018, the audit stated.

The audit additionally discovered 42 extra questionable transactions totaling $8,542, together with 14 purchases totaling greater than $4,000 on a fuel card and 6 checks written to the finance officer totaling $905 that  had “petty money” written within the memo line.

A city commissioner who’s the previous finance officer’s mom cosigned among the checks.

“There was no oversight of how taxpayer {dollars} are being spent in that city,” Wooden stated in a YouTube video in regards to the audit.

East Laurinburg has about 300 residents and had an annual finances of about $75,000 for the yr that resulted in June 2020, the audit stated.

The city doesn’t have any written accounting insurance policies and procedures.

The audit report included a quote from the city commissioner who cosigned checks for her finance officer daughter: “I can’t let you know if she had receipts or not. I simply made a butt of myself and assumed that she had a receipt. I didn’t ask for one.”

The audit advisable the city search reimbursement from the previous finance officer, contemplate authorized motion in opposition to her, make sure that all checks have supporting documentation, have an unbiased, goal commissioner signal checks, and have an annual audit carried out.

City officers couldn’t be reached Wednesday. Nobody answered the telephone at city corridor and calls to 2 city council members weren’t returned. The city didn’t submit a proper response to the audit, however the report included a quote from the mayor saying that commissioners have determined to pursue costs in opposition to the previous finance officer.

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