Responding to an ‘apparent’ complaint, state auditor requests Ecru payroll records

By Sandra Priest/Pontotoc Progress

As the regular board meeting for the town of Ecru got underway last Tuesday evening, Alderman Ivonne Whitehead requested verification for several items listed within the checkbook register.

The register shows a history of checks written on behalf of the town during the previous month. These expenditures are approved by the board on the claims docket and its addendum the month prior.

Alderman Whitehead singled out several random checks from the General Fund and the Water and Sewer Fund in order to clarify the specific purpose for each amount. When questioned about $50 paid to Tupelo Humane Society, Mayor Tom Todd and Town Clerk Gretchin Moody explained to those present about problems with some stray dogs that the humane society had been asked to handle.

A check paid to Warren Johnson in the amount of $639.05 was brought into question, as well as $2,027.20 to the Mississippi Department of Health. Mayor Todd and Mrs. Moody reported that the former was a reimbursement for delinquent land taxes that had been redeemed, and the latter was for an annual fee required by the health department in the amount of $.75 per water meter.

In answer to Whitehead’s questions concerning a check for $3598, the mayor and Moody informed the board that the monies went to the Mississippi Municipal Workman’s Comp Group Insurance, as had been previously approved on the claims docket.

When asked for verification of $569 listed on the claims docket to the Mississippi Municipal League, but only paid out in the amount of $344 in the checkbook register, Mayor Todd called a brief recess so Moody could retrieve supporting documents to verify the actual transactions.

During the short recess, Mayor Todd made a few comments concerning rumors circulating around town that he wanted to delay hiring another full time officer for the town because he supposedly had someone already in mind for the job. “If you have heard that rumor or are spreading that rumor, it’s an untruth and I’d appreciate it if you’d put a stop to it,” Todd said.

The mayor also informed all present that town hall had received a call from the State Auditor’s office requesting employee payroll records from 2009, 2010 and 2011.

“Apparently,” Mayor Todd remarked, “somebody has filed a complaint.”

Upon Moody’s return to the board room, the meeting resumed and records were produced in order to answer Whitehead’s inquiries. Because Alderman Ronnie Stephens was unable to attend the MML Convention, Moody explained, his registration fee of $225 was shown as a credit. Although $569 was listed on the claims docket, only $344 was actually paid, as was listed in the checkbook register. “I had it adjusted before I sent them the money,” Moody pointed out.

Whitehead then passed to fellow aldermen copies of a clarification of an opinion from Attorney General Jim Hood’s office concerning the approval of board members attending conferences, training, or seminars. During discussion that followed, the board reviewed past procedure on the matter. Alderman Whitehead also expressed her reservations in giving approval for the claims docket for the month of July although there has been a lapse of three months since that time.