Editor’s note: This is the third of a 5 part series taking a detailed look at the recently released audit for the town of Mannsville, spanning from July 11, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2015. Parts 1 and 2 of this series are available at Ardmoreite.com.

The recently released audit for the town of Mannsville reported the following in regards to the town’s usage of REAP Project Grant funds in the construction of a new fire station. The town of Mannsville held a dedication ceremony for its new fire station in October 2014, as reported in The Ardmoreite on Nov. 3, 2014.

• A REAP grant reimbursement request submitted to SODA by Shonda Barnes included a fictitious invoice totaling $4,212.10.
The report states that Shonda Barnes submitted a REAP Grant “Request for Funds” to SODA on Aug. 26, 2014. Included as part of the request was a document for $4,212.10 from the vendor Ardmore Electric Supply, presented as an invoice for reimbursement. According to the report, the document presented to SODA included a handwritten note stating, “All material delivered and installed.” The report goes on to claim that the attached note implied that the “purchase had occurred and the work performed…” But upon further review, “it was determined that the note was a “price quote” and not an “… invoice for materials…” The report goes on to state that the mentioned document had “also been altered to show the Mannsville Fire Dept. as the quote recipient.”

• A REAP grant “request for funds” was signed by Barnes, who was not authorized by the town to sign grant related documents.
The audit reports that a resolution establishing the town officials authorized to act on behalf of the town was required as part of the REAP grant application process. According to the audit findings, the resolution designated Mayor Don Colbert and Trustee Dean Copeland as authorized signors on all related documentation necessary to file, process and approve the grant. The audit goes on to state that a “request for funds” submitted on Aug. 26, 2014, which included the altered “price quote” as an invoice, was signed by Barnes as the “authorized official.” The report states that by signing as the authorized official, Barnes certified that the town expenditures were on a reimbursement basis and that the town’s governing body had approved the expenditures, adding that the $4,212.10 “had not been approved” and “never actually occurred,” and “the authorization of this transaction was erroneous.”

• A fabricated invoice, receiving report and purchase requisition totaling $3,044.91 was submitted by Johnston County for reimbursement of grant expenditures.
The report states that according to Mannsville Fire Chief Derek Gray, the fire department obtained electric supplies during the completion of the REAP grant project but did not pay for them at the time the supplies were acquired. Instead, the expenditure was presented for reimbursement through Johnston County “more than nine months later using fabricated documentation.” The audit goes on to state that “based off of false invoices and receiving reports, the county clerk paid the expenditures which would have otherwise been unauthorized.”

• Most REAP grant matching costs claimed were not properly accounted for or documented.
The audit claims that the town claimed matching costs of $29,881.25. Of the amounts noted, “only $10,000 shown as ‘cash match paid to contractors’ was properly supported.” One example provided claims that supporting documentation for a $2,200 air conditioning unit claimed was an invoice presented for a cash sale of the air conditioning unit totaling $1,792.88, and that the “cost did not agree with the in-kind match amount claimed.” The audit goes on to add that “per Gray, a $2,000 cash withdrawal made from the Mannsville Volunteer Fire Department checking account was for this purchase.”

• Activity reports prepared and submitted by Barnes as documentation for the town’s grant match included erroneously reported labor hours and equipment-use hours.
According to the audit, the town submitted an activity report to SODA documenting labor hours and equipment-use hours in support of in-kind match amounts claimed at $15,006.25. The audit says that, according to Barnes, work hours were reported to her and she tracked the hours on a spreadsheet. The report also states that some inmates were listed part of the in-kind labor match on the activity report for days that they were not assigned to work with the town, adding that the town claimed 72 hours of work inmate labor for time they were not checked out of the correctional facility to work for the town.

• The final REAP grant “close out certification” required by SODA had not been submitted by the town as of March 2017.
The audit reports that, according to a SODA representative, the town had not submitted their required close-out documentation, adding that the information had been requested three times, but never received.