We have been complaining about Pam Tomlinson’s efficiency and lack of education for a long time. We know that grants which were to have had separate accounting were mixed in the general fund and one year $40,000 in grant money was lost and two years later, it looked like it was repaid through the Sewer/Water (Enterprise) account.
But these are the facts and I do not think you will find these two issues funny. We certainly did not:
Finally I got the correspondence from Senator Rubio’s office. In it the Tax Payer Advocate, a federal agency, said that the IRS said “The attached case for town of White Springs resulted in full disallowance due to not qualifying as as an IRC (Internal Revenue Code) IRC 501 (c).’ If we weren’t a 501 (c) in 2012 and the rule of 501 (c) didn’t change, which it didn’t, I fail to see how we got a refund of the 2011 tax year. . Additionally the Town didn’t file it form 8941 until 6/10/13 for the 2011 tax year. If I remember right, we had to pay some $11,000 to the IRS because of our error.
With a town so used to taking shortcuts it is not surprising that now the Town owed the IRS money for falsifying their TAX RETURNS. Where we are going to get the money to pay the fines, penalties and other fees is beyond me. Look out for an audit of prior years returns by the IRS. Cheating is not something you do once. The town thought they would be exempt from disclosing all of their paperwork and they were wrong. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people, Look for your water bills to go up to cover this shortfall of cash.
THE FOLLOWING IS A MAJOR F/U SINCE HAMILTON COUNTY SENT AN INVOICE AS SOON AS THE WORK WAS DONE:
We attended the special meeting of August 3, 2015, regarding the $92,662 which we owe Hamilton County for the Jewett Street project. We are correct in that FEMA paid White Springs that amount for the claim and the money was not earmarked for Hamilton County but spent out of the general fund.
“The pattern never changes” is a correct statement by Joe. But this meeting gave us better insight as to who is so fearful of being wrong that fairy tales are told instead of the truth. A story given by our Interim Town Manager Shirley Heath to the Jasper News was a total fairy tale and I wonder if Shirley is still getting help from Townsend to make up such stories to place the blame on others…..because our office personnel, heavens forbid, does not make mistakes. No, Shirley, the government never shut down and although FEMA is an arm of the government by receiving funds for natural disasters, it is still an insurance company. And I bet no other Town made the mistake of spending the money without earmarking it to go to the County.
In fact, per former mayor Helen Miller, Robert Farley stated he had no blame in the matter as Shirley had advised our news reporter. (Shirley probably was still upset with Farley because he blamed her for not reminding the Council about the yearly increments that should have been made to the sewer and water.) Supposedly the Town received a spread sheet of what was spent by the County. The Spread sheet was given to Bill Lawrence and a complaint was made that Bill did not call Robert Farley. Bill Lawrence did not call Farley because it was not his first rodeo. He however, left information with Pam, Rhett and Shirley before he left because Pam was waiting for an invoice. A spread sheet had been provided by Hamilton County, but because it was not an invoice per see, the Town would not pay based upon that spread sheet.
Former Mayor Miller also referred to the fact that in the Powell and Jones Audit, the $92,662 came in and then the audit showed that the $92,662 went out, so it looked like it had been paid or why did the auditor not catch that when processing the operating budget?
She further stated that for years, on Page 55 of the audit, that White Springs has an internal control deficiency. When Rhett inquired, former Mayor Miller read the definition. Apparently we have been warned for years about our internal controls but alas, no one seems to adhere to the warning and look what we did this time. Has anyone ever had an education in bookkeeping or in finance, other than Joe Griffin and me? Someone needed to allow Anita Rivers to train in for the bookkeeping job. She was familiar with transactions in the private sector and she was praised by the officer at IMS that she would probably need only four hours of training.
Walter McKenzie stated some may think we just kept the money; hoping we would not have to pay it out. Then Pam responded that we did keep the money and added that perhaps Hamilton County had forgiven the amount because they are so nice to us. Without an invoice we just did not pay Hamilton County and ignored the spread sheet.
Joe brought up the fact that Pam does not use the IMS system which would have assisted in such an error. For one thing it would provide a tickler system reminding someone of a bill and for someone to talk to the right people at Hamilton County. Not only that, the system should have shown the debit of $92,662 and a credit should have been established payable to Hamilton County for that same amount so that it not only would be a reminder but also it would mean the money could not be touched by the Town until it was paid. Obviously, the $92,662 was placed in a general fund per Pam but used. Therefore Joe was correct, there was no need for the meeting unless we did not save the $92,662 because all we would have had to do is issue a check. What was stated was “MONEY WAS SITTING FOR A WHILE AND WE SPENT IT AT SOME POINT.” In fact for some reason the fact that Hamilton County had not been paid was not realized until Joe called and asked if they had received payment, two years after the invoice was received. Obviously their auditor who is our Auditor did not catch the problem in a two year period.
Apparently there was confusion, per Shirley, at the county when they contacted Mr. Goodin, who stated they had been paid. Yes by NRCS! Louie Goodin allegedly stated the county had been paid by FEMA but we do not know if this is another fairy tale. We are not sure how the question was raised. The County was paid by the NRCS for the streets other than Jewett. And Shirley still kept mentioning FEMA and we kept correcting her that NRCS paid the County; FEMA did not. Integrity and Communication does not seem to be a strong suit in the office.
We do know that we were told within the hour that the money was due for Jewett Street by Greg Godwin after Joe Griffin raised the question.. However, there was never a double payment from FEMA (one to Hamilton County and one to White Springs). FEMA an insurer for the government never makes that type of mistake; if anything, one must wait for payments and sometimes fight for the entire amount. Fortunately Hamilton County’s engineer Greg Bailey had experience in roadways and assisted in White Spring’s in placing a claim to FEMA. That is because the bids varied as follows: Curt’s Construction, Inc. $219,599.90 Cauthen – Fl, Fill & Grading, Inc. $62,878.70 and Curt’s Construction, Inc. $99,732.80.
As you have read, we mentioned previously the $ 92,662 was owed to the County for the Jewett Street project, after $20,000 was deducted. What we did not know was that the $20,000 expended from the Enterprise Account (Sewer and Water) was spent by the Town for Sand bags and the like, per former Mayor Miller.
Joe’s one phone call to Greg Godwin confirmed that we owed Hamilton County for Jewett Street and I included on the blog the minutes of the February 5, 2013 meeting of the Hamilton County Commissioners stating: : Florida Fill & Grade was awarded the 1st Street, Kendrick and Cauthen which is covered by NRCS funds as well as the 1st Street. Kendrick and Cauthern project by accepting their bid. The latter also was to be paid by NRCS funds and it was decided to allow staff to discuss Jewett Street with FEMA.
What is funny is that Shirley Heath had to bring in the county coordinator, Greg Goodin to help her understand the transactions and what was happening.. I could not believe my ears. We found the county’s minutes of 2013 and were told the amount owed, and the Town was given a spread sheet. What was there to not understand that took hours of Mr. Goodin’s time? Shirley said it was “confusing”. It may be confusing how we do our accounting in White Springs but it is not confusing if one would just read or discuss the information from the County.
Alas, it was finally decided that $57,997 would be moved from the Enterprise Fund into the General Fund so that the $92, 662 could be paid out of the General Fund. That means there would be a balance in the general fund of $61,261 after the payment and $84,762 in the Enterprise Account. Keeping and spending the money which was to have been used for the Jewett Street project, payable to Hamilton County and hoping the County would not invoice us is a bit like fraud and it would have been insurance fraud if a claim was submitted that would not have been used for Jewett Street.
White Springs also paid $7,200 for the pipe under Jewett Street, which originally the town was hoping to deduct from the $92,662 payment but finally someone came to their senses and stated we had to pay the full amount of $92,662 to the County and provide a change order to the County for $7,200 and hopefully be reimbursed by the County.
Shirley was the interim town manager when this project began and she is again the interim town manager now. She had been the Town Clerk for I believe 18 years and received her CMC designation. Pam has been with the Town for 15 years and does not use the appropriate accounting principles nor the IMS Program. Then we wonder why our sewer rates are so high. We keep messing up by not budgeting and keep raiding the Enterprise Account because we keep running out of money in the General Account. There are no checks and balances; no follow-up system and we have the tools to do it but Shirley and Pam do not like new innovations, especially in computer systems. Then we compound the issues we have by retaining the same auditor who also believes in fairy tales. The only person in that office that has the ability to understand and the ability to learn new things is Anita Rivers and to my knowledge she is treated like an administrative assistant and Andrew Greene probably has been given more training but on what since Pam only uses quick books. Can you believe it? Andrew Greene used to sit in with Pam Tomlinson doing Pam’s accounting. Two who did not have experience handling accounting is a very sad thing indeed. Only Anita Rivers used the IMS program.
Even Stacy Tebo after starting did not know how to clean this matter up so Ms. Tebo obviously did not have the accounting background which is required in part by all Town Managers.
Karin for the blog
ALSO ANOTHER PROBLEM:
I was at the council meeting when a proposal was being introduced to provide land use consultation.It was the same meeting Pam was in tears and whispered loudly they had no money to pay the Town’s indebtedness; to which her comment was totally ignored by the Council. I have never seen monies allocated toward such consultation fees and can only determine that this was a project the Council wished.
In the termination letter, it was advised that invoices would be sent to the Town of WS for the work completed. My question to you is this what work? How much do we owe and have we paid anything yet? There was nothing stipulated in the budget nor has there been any changes in land use. We couldn’t even afford to get the Jewett road fixed. Are you kidding me?