Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of an ongoing series taking a detailed look at the recently released audit for the town of Mannsville, spanning from July 11, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2015. Previous installments of the series are available at Ardmoreite.com.

As part of the recently released audit for the town of Mannsville, Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones was asked to review possible discrepancies in hiring practices, including nepotism, payroll, use of town vehicles and travel reimbursements. The findings of the report are as follows:

•  We (SA&I) found no evidence that the hiring of Derek Gray as fire chief or as a town employee was nepotism:
Allegations were presented that the hiring of Derek Gray as fire chief and as a town employee was an act of nepotism. Gray is the nephew of Mannsville Town Treasurer Shonda Barnes. The findings found that though Barnes is an elected official, she was not responsible for Gray’s appointment or hiring and therefore could not be considered nepotism.

•  Timesheet and accompanying payroll records were missing, incomplete, and inaccurate, and did not properly support compensation paid to town and MPWA employees.
The report states that of the 127 pay periods reviewed, only 97 timesheets were located of which only 27 had indicated review and approval by the supervisor, noting that additional payroll supporting documentation was insufficient. The findings also noted that some pay periods were documented incorrectly on pay stubs and purchase orders, documentations of vacation and sick leave were not provided, paychecks were being issued before the end of the pay period, several timesheets included no information as to dates worked, times worked or leave taken.

• Town treasurer  Barnes was paid $1,282.9 in overtime pay without proper supporting documentation or the required approvals.
The report states that on Jan. 20, 2012, a check in the amount of $1,872.98 was issued to  Barnes for 122 hours of overtime. The check stated the overtime was from the pay period between Jan. 13, 2012 to Jan. 26, 2012. The audit states that the purchase order for the overtime pay was not signed or approved by any town official or approving authority and did not designate the time period for the overtime. Barnes told auditors that a spreadsheet documenting the hours worked had been stolen.

• Barnes misappropriated an insurance refund check of $66.95 made payable to the town of Mannsville.
According to the audit, Blue Cross Blue Shield canceled the town’s health insurance policy for delinquency on March 10, 2014, with a paid to date of Jan. 1, 2014. The audit states that per BCBS premiums paid after Jan. 1, 2014 were “too little, too late to reinstate the policy.” The remaining credit balance of $976 was refunded to the town in two transactions, $909.05 on April 30, 2014 and $66.95 on Sept. 26, 2014. The audit states that the $909.05 check was deposited into the town’s general fund on June 10, 2015, while “the second check in the amount of $66.95 was deposited by Barnes into the bank account of her ex-husband on Feb. 17, 2015, almost 5 months after the check was issued.”

• Barnes was compensated $1,000 for duties not related to her elected position without an approved town ordinance in place as required by statute.
The audit states that during a July, 2015 meeting, town trustees voted to pay Barnes $600 for performing the duties of the officially elected town clerk, adding that in total Barnes was paid $1,000 for additional “clerk duties,” according to the meeting minutes.
The audit found that although the additional pay was approved by the board in a vote of 2-1, auditors found no evidence that the additional pay was documented or approved in an official ordinance of the town as required by law. The audit noted that a new town clerk was appointed in Feb. 2016 and payments to Barnes for clerk related duties ceased.

• We (SA&I) found no evidence that the hiring of Gray as fire chief or as a MPWA employee was improper. However, Gray’s pay rate, job duties and work hours were never defined or approved by the board.
The audit states that Gray was appointed on  (on an interim basis) Jan. 16, 2014. On April 14, 2014, the board voted to change Gray’s employment status to permanent, with the position to continue being a no-pay, volunteer position. On June 9, 2014, the board voted to make the position paid, however, meeting minutes did not specify a rate-of-pay, job duties or work hours. On April 30, 2015, Gray was hired as a “Backup” employee for the Mannsville Public Works Authority. The minutes did not indicate pay rate or how time worked or pay received would be managed between the positions.

• Gray was compensated $2,557.50 as “contract labor” without an officially approved contract in place.
The audit states that although appointed as fire chief on June 9, 2014, Gray was not approved as an official employee of the town until July 17, 2014. The audit states that Gray received payments for “Contract labor,” during a period when he was “not eligible for any compensation” from the town.