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Audit Finds $40,000 ‘Misappropriated’ in Johnson County

News release from Comptroller’s Office:
An employee in the Johnson County mayor’s office misappropriated more than $40,000 worth of solid waste transfer station collection fees, an investigation by the Comptroller’s Division of County Audit has revealed. Also, the audit showed that the county’s solid waste director allowed his son to remove scrap metal from a solid waste transfer station and sell it for his personal gain.
Investigators found that between November 2010 and August 2011, the employee in the county mayor’s office failed to deposit several days’ worth of solid waste collection fees, totaling $21,958.15. The employee also deposited $18,737.40 worth of unreceipted checks for solid waste collections, but removed an equal amount of cash collections that had been receipted. Furthermore, the employee didn’t turn over $800 collected for sewer inspections to the Department of Environment and Conservation.
When the county mayor was notified of the cash shortage, he immediately suspended the employee. The cash shortage was reported to the local district attorney general.
Also during the investigation, then-Solid Waste Director Tim Keene admitted to allowing his son to sell an undetermined amount of scrap metal. Keene was fired last April. Information about the scrap metal sales was forwarded to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
“It is always unfortunate when public dollars are misappropriated or public resources are used for personal gain,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “I would ask that anyone who suspects fraud, waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars in our local governments across Tennessee to contact our fraud hotline at 1-800-232-5454. I also want to commend Johnson County officials for promising to take corrective action promptly after learning of our auditors’ findings.”
The audit noted several other deficiencies in Johnson County’s financial practices, including a failure of some departments to adequately separate the duties of people involved in collecting, depositing and accounting for money. Allowing one employee to handle all aspects of a transaction does not provide adequate checks and balances to safeguard money received.
The complete audit can be viewed online at: http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/repository/CA/2011/Johnson.pdf

Ban on TEA Using Dues for Lobbying May Be Reconsidered (turns out another group is impacted)

By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Republican sponsor of a bill targeting the influence of the state’s largest teachers’ union says he is willing to revisit an element of the measure that prevents payroll deductions to be used to fund lobbying efforts at the Tennessee Capitol.
Under the bill signed into law this month by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, teachers’ professional organizations will no longer be allowed to use the payroll deductions for political purposes ranging from political contributions to lobbying and polling.
The provision is part of a measure replacing teachers’ collective bargaining rights with a concept called “collaborative conferencing.”
The Tennessee Education Association represents 52,000 educators and has long been a heavy contributor to Democratic candidates.
The measure also affects the smaller rival Professional Educators of Tennessee, which has been more supportive of other parts of the Republican bill. PET executive director J.C. Bowman said he agrees with the law’s ban on political contributions but not on the lobbying prohibition.

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