Auditor: Former Mayor owes Village of Rutland for unsupported checks

Staff Report

COLUMBUS — A state audit of the Village of Rutland discovered checks written by a former mayor during 2016 that were reportedly unsupported and paid out of the wrong account, according to a news release from the State Auditor’s Office.

The audit released today holds former Mayor April Burke responsible for seven checks totaling $645 that reportedly lacked supporting documentation and evidence of approval from village council.

According to Burke’s check register, five of the payments were $100 Christmas bonuses she issued to employees in December 2016. Burke, who resigned this past December, wrote the other two checks to automotive repair shops and listed “tow for traffic stop” as the reason for both payments, according to the State Auditor’s Office.

Without supporting documentation, such as an invoice, auditors could not determine whether the payments served a proper public purpose. Auditors issued a $645 finding for recovery against Burke.

According to the State Auditor’s Office, the seven checks were among a total of 15 that Burke reportedly improperly paid from the mayor’s court checking account when she should have made the payments from the general fund. Auditors adjusted the general fund balance to offset the errors. The 15 checks totaled $2,273.

In total, the audit report showed 13 findings from the 2015 and 2016 audits.

Several of the findings were for noncompliance and/or material weakness regarding the keeping of records, receipt books and other documents by village officials.

Records listed as missing or incomplete include:

  • Pre-numbered duplicate receipt books were used during 2016 and 2015. However, all pre-numbered duplicate receipt books could not be located and presented for audit. Management indicated these books may have been stolen.
  • The Village could not provide minutes for the Dec. 14, 2016 council meeting.
  • Purchase orders were not on file for 61 percent of those tested for 2016.
  • Time sheets were not on file for 33 percent of employee payrolls tested for 2015.
  • Federal 1099 forms were not presented for audit for 2015 or 2016

Additionally, mayor’s court funds were not placed into the general fund as is required, as well as not maintaining a mayor’s court docket for 2015 and 2016. Cash receipts in the amount of $216 for 2015 and $3,036 for 2016 were deposited into the bank, but not posted on the mayor’s court system. There was a check written in the amount of $200 from the mayor’s court account made payable to “cash” with no evidence of support or approval, according to the State Auditor’s Office.

These findings for 2015 and 2016 come following 2012 audit findings of two former village clerks having taken money from the village, portions of which still have not been repaid.

In the summary schedule of the audit report, it lists findings from 2012 against Mista Eldridge in the amounts of $2,515 and $12,166 which have not been repaid, and findings of $65,791, $1,311 and $308 against Laura Curtis. Curtis has a remaining balance of $36,788 to pay, according to the report.

Both Curtis and Eldridge pleaded guilty to charges in relation to the thefts from the village.

None of the audit findings involve any of the current village administration, with the current mayor and fiscal officer/clerk having taken on those roles in 2018.

Staff Report