Comptroller’s report finds payroll, credit card deficiencies by Town of Unicoi

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An investigation by the Tennessee comptroller’s office found deficiencies with the Town of Unicoi’s payroll and credit card purchases. 

In a report released Wednesday, the comptroller’s office said “a lack of management oversight contributed to payroll deficiencies” and “deficiencies related to credit card purchases.”

The report claims a former town recorder and a current town employee received discounted rates for their spouses’ medical and dental insurance. These discounts, totaling $13,318 and $8,344, were not authorized by the town’s personnel policy, the investigation determined. 

“The personnel policy provides for the town to pay the cost of the employee’s medical and dental insurance; however, if an employee elects to provide coverage for family members, that cost will be at the employee’s expense,” the report states.

After finding out about this deficiency, the town entered into a settlement with the former recorder to recover $5,000 and absorb the remaining loss of at least $16,662. 

Town attorney Lois Schultz Davis told News Channel 11 the case of the other employee receiving discount spousal rates was an error and not the employee’s fault. She said the issue has been rectified. 

Town officials also allowed Davis herself to participate in a state pension plan, although she was ineligible. Davis said she was told she was eligible to be covered and paid 90% of the premium, but never invested in it.

The comptroller’s office also said the town lacked oversight regarding credit card purchases which could result in improper purchases.

In one case, the investigation found the town paid credit card invoices without adequate documentation. In another case, the town bought $4,368 in food and drinks, including “candy, soft drinks, cheese and veggie trays, crackers, Gatorade, Bai water, green tea, and Slimfast.” The town mayor said the items purchased were for meeting attendees, employees, and special events, but investigators were unable to determine if the purchases were personal in nature or business-related. Some items were found inside town offices. 

Davis believes the issue over the snacks and drinks came from “someone with a political agenda.”

The investigation also found the town incurred finance charges of $266 and late fees of $617. 

Davis told News Channel 11 the issues in the report have all been correct, calling them compliancy issues but “no malfeasance.”

Click here to view the full report from the comptroller’s office. 

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