Greenville Money Woes Heard At Town Council Meeting

By Lynette Norris

Greene Publishing, Inc.

Bob Powell of James Moore & Company updated the town council on the progress of its financial audit, and the approaching June 30 deadline when the audit had to be finished and the results turned in to the Florida Department of Revenue. If the town misses that deadline, it could lose out on revenue sharing with the state and have as many as 50 points deducted from any CDBG grant application it makes in the future. The key thing, said Powell, was that all the bank accounts and the cash had been reconciled, but somehow, all the different funds, expenses and accounts had been rolled into one big fund. Payroll looked good, he said, but it was strewn throughout several accounts. The challenge now was to go back through the books and get the money sorted back out into its proper slots. This meant going through stacks of receipts and other supporting documents to tease out where the money was supposed to have been put in the first place. Town Clerk Kim Ream had been an enormous help in the auditing process, Powell told the council, going back through financial records month by month and helping get revenues sorted back out to where they belonged. Town Consultant Jim Parrish added that the problem appeared to have begun sometime in early 2013, when somebody apparently thought it would be easier if all the town’s accounts were combined. “But in government, accounting doesn’t work that way,” he said, with Powell adding that such combining of accounts in government accounting was prohibited by statute. “The mistake compounds every month,” said Powell, “We have to go back and redo and redo and redo.” The consolidation appeared to have begun sometime in January or February of 2013, a time that coincided with the hiring of a temporary bookkeeping service that was still doing the bank receipts and payroll. Powell stated that with QuickBooks, all that should be done internally, not by an outside source. “I’m not here to blame,” he said. “It’s here, and we’ve got to fix it…we’re going to be pushing real close to June 30, but we’ll get it done.” The firm would have to assign an extra person to the job to make sure it got done on time, and it would cost the town an extra $6,000. He need the council’s approval before he could proceed. Greenville attorney Christine Thurman said that it was a $6,000 mess-up that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, but the council voted to authorize the firm to continue with the extra person necessary to get the audit completed in time, so the town council could formally approve the audit’s results in a special meeting before June 30. News of the extra $6,000 to be paid out made money a sore subject with people in the audience, especially when the subject of repayment from former Town Clerk Sherry Roland came up. Roland, who had pled guilty to misappropriating $23,000, was said to be defaulting on her scheduled repayments, and people wanted to know if there were extra legal steps that could be taken. Attorney Thurman said that since the town’s insurance company was supposed to reimburse the town, it seemed redundant to pay her firm extra fees to go after Roland for the same thing. Reacting to news that Roland had been doing community service elsewhere, former town clerk Trish Hinton asked why Roland couldn’t be brought back to perform such service in Greenville. “It would be a boost to the morale of the citizens of Greenville to see her out there picking up trash,” Hinton stated. Town Council member Al Young said Roland’s punishment amounted to a “slap on the wrist” when anyone else would have been slapped in handcuffs. Thurman added that the Roland case was essentially “off the radar” in the State Attorney’s Office – too small a case to maintain a high profile of interest. Instead of having the law firm go after Roland, costing the town extra money, Thurman thought it would be a better idea if concerned citizens began calling State Attorney Dean Morphonius’ office and making themselves heard, or showing up at meetings in Tallahassee whenever Roland’s case was coming up for review. To check the court dockets on the Roland case, or any other court case, go to http://www.madisonclerk.com/, scroll down to the bottom under “Web Links” and click on Court Docket Search. Records show that Roland was ordered in April of 2013 to repay $23,878.42 to the Town of Greenville. Since then, she has had two affidavits of violation of probation filed against her, first in June of 2013, and again on March 19, 2014. The most recent action on her case is an order of modification to her probation, requiring her to provide monthly financial affidavits to her probation officer until she becomes current on her financial obligations.

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Lynette Norris

Written by Lynette Norris