Saluda responds to audit findings

Published 6:21 am Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Saluda commissioners addressed concerns brought up in the 2011-2012 audit report including payroll issues, cell phonerecords and credit card use.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners met Aug. 12 and heard from Mayor Fred Baisden, who said numerous people have asked why the city is hiding things in the audit.

The audit report, issued by Crawley, Lee & Company, PA, noted that board minutes for fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 were not prepared in a timely fashion.

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Saluda officials said minutes have since been completed in a timely manner.

The auditor also noted the city wrote checks for Christmas bonuses and awards to various employees without taxing them for FICA and state and federal withholdings.

Auditors also said in one instance the hours on a timesheet calculated by an employee did not match the total time for the day.

“We recommend the time sheets completed by the employees be recalculated before being approved and paid,” states the audit report. “Additionally, the city could consider the implementation of a time clock that would limit the possibility of these types of errors in reporting. Furthermore, the use of a time clock could address the governing body’s concerns over whether an employee is properly documenting their time worked.”

Baisden said employees are filling out time sheets on Monday and are changing their time sheets, which indicates to him that something’s not right.

“I’m a due diligence kind of person and we need to get a handle on that to make sure when someone looks at a time sheet that’s been changed from five to nine, or whatever, it raises questions,” said Baisden. “I know for a fact there are times that people have changed their time sheets.”

Commissioner George Sweet asked why the city does weekly timesheets, not daily.

City administrator Erny Williams said the sheets are done versus work orders and some employees don’t return to city hall at 4 p.m. Williams said the audit only found one instance and asked that other issues be brought to his attention at the time.

“If you were paying attention to what was going on, you would have it,” Baisden said to Williams.

Sweet said he’d be happy to get together with Williams to figure out a way to tighten the process.

“The way it’s being done, to me, is not sufficiently controlled,” Sweet said.

Auditors also found that personal calls were being made on city cell phones. Employees have since turned in all city cell phones.

“We noted during the review of expenditures that cell phone charges paid by the city included several phone numbers that appear to be of a personal nature,” states the audit report. “We recommend that the cell phone bills be reviewed by a member of the governing body to determine if the city’s business cell phones are necessary and if it would be less costly to the city if employees were reimbursed for a portion of their personal phone bills in lieu of maintaining city cell phones.”

Baisden said at the time of the audit, Saluda had three cells phones with one having 83.4 percent of calls for personal use and another having 100 percent of calls for personal use.

“We don’t have cell phones anymore,” Baisden said. “I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be paid for using their personal cell phones.”

Williams said as an administrator he has no way of communicating with staff other than cell phones. He said the three cell phones cost the city $140 and at that particular time, paying $140 a month versus paying part of 10 employees’ phones was the best deal.

“I turned the phones in because it’s a recurring issue all the time,” Williams said.

Baisden said there was a 1,400-minute plan, after which employees were billed for overages, and someone increased the minutes. Baisden said he doesn’t care if it’s $65 or $140 it’s still using taxpayers’ money.

Resident Ellen Rogers told Williams that he handled himself well during the conversation, but said personnel issues shouldn’t be discussed in public.

“You do not berate your staff in front of the public,” Rogers said.

Baisden said he was sorry to Williams if he berated him.

Commissioners also discussed credit card and fuel card purchases. The board approved the mayor pro-tem reviewing Williams’ purchases with Williams in charge of reviewing other staff purchases. Staff said fuel cards are monitored with pin numbers in order to see who made what fuel purchase.