Tioga Borough has formed a special committee to look into alleged financial miscalculations, taking a step back from an initially proposed forensic audit.
The decision was made at a special borough council meeting last Friday, July 16, attended by borough council, members of the public, Mayor David Wilcox and Borough Solicitor Jeff Loomis.
“Obviously when somebody shows me numbers and they don’t add up, I agree that’s a question that should be raised,” said Loomis. “I’m sure there’s an explanation, but take a look because the Mayor was correct as far as the math does not add up as far as the hours go and I agree with that.”
Loomis added that while he acknowledges miscalculations on documents Wilcox showed him, he hasn’t seen any evidence of fraud or anything that “warrants the borough jumping off a cliff.”
Wilcox said the discrepancies he found allegedly show a former employee was paid for more hours than they reportedly worked on multiple occasions. He read off a series of the alleged miscalculations, such as the employee’s timesheet showing they worked 66.5 hours, but borough bank statements showing they were paid for 80 hours.
Wilcox also clarified that “rounding off is a very small portion of the numbers,” referring to a fulltime employee working 37.5 hours and receiving half an hour of paid lunch per day, equating to 40 hours per week.
Loomis said after seeing Wilcox’s findings, which were brought to council’s attention at their regular meeting in early July, his initial recommendation was to have the personnel committee look into the issue.
“My recommendation has not changed,” Loomis said last Friday.
Loomis was not in attendance at the first special meeting called Friday, July 12, where council discussed ordering a forensic audit going back one year or more if needed. Council announced the following Tuesday that Loomis informed them the July 12 meeting was not valid since the meeting was not advertised in a newspaper at least 24 hours before.
At the July 16 meeting, Wilcox said the borough was quoted $50,000 to perform a forensic audit going back one year.
“I personally think that is absurd and not a good use of taxpayer’s money, however, there has to be accountability,” said Wilcox.
Councilmember Bob Wertz made the motion to form a special committee to review employee timesheets against borough financial records. Councilmember Brennan Wood seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Volunteering for the committee were councilmembers Steve Hazlett and Marybess Hazlett, Borough Code Enforcement Officer Bob Wheeler, seasonal borough employee Debra Relaford and residents John Lavancher and Ben Shutter.
They decided to meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 27 at the borough office. It was stated the borough secretary must be present while anyone looks at borough records, and nothing can be taken out of the building.