A special investigation into the City of Pacific Junction found some issues with the money paid to the former city clerk. State Auditor Mary Mosiman says they investigated after a citizen raised concerns about the number and frequency of paychecks issued for Kari Williams.
“We did go in and investigate, and we identified over $31,000 of improper disbursements — which mainly included improper vacation, sick leave and holiday pay,” Mosiman says.
She says the payments were clearly not allowed under city rules. “The city has a policy that employees working 32 hours per week or more are eligible for benefits, which includes the holiday, vacation and sick leave,” Mosiman says. “But in this case, the city clerk who was require to work during office hours and during city council meetings averaged just over 25 hours a week, so was not eligible for this vacation, holiday and sick leave, and certainly not the payout.”
Mosiman says poor oversight by city officials was part of the problem as the city does have a policy requiring employees to used time cards stamped by the time clock as a record for their pay. “However, the city clerk routinely hand wrote the hours on her own time card and the city council was not approving these time cards. So, there was the actions of the city clerk as well as the lack of oversight from the city council and mayor,” Mosiman says.
Mosiman says Williams admitted she did not work the number of hours required to qualify for the benefits, and she did resign from the job. Mosiman says the investigation also found that the city clerk was not up-to-date in handling payroll taxes for the city. “So as a result, the city has unpaid payroll taxes, including penalties and interest from the IRS, totaling just over 73,000 dollars,” Mosiman says. “Since the city is working for the IRS at this time to resolve this issue, we simply disclosed this in our report. It is not part of the improper disbursement.”
The report on the investigation includes recommendations to strengthen the city’s internal controls and overall operations, such as improving segregation of duties, performing bank reconciliations, and performing an independent review of bank statements and payroll.