GARLAND – During a Tuesday meeting, Mayor Winifred Murphy presented an update and explanation on a late audit which came with a resignation of the town’s clerk.
The letter was addressed to the Local Government Commission, which oversees finances of municipalities. It’s operated through the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer.
“Due to personnel changes and personnel issues since October 2012, our financial records have not been maintained accurately or in a timely manner,” Murphy stated about the tardy 2012-13 audit.
Garland commissioners met May 27 during a special session and made several changes to job assignments. Finance officer Jennifer Gray was placed on probation. Part-time help was also approved.
Murphy said the commissioners are confident that the changes will help correct the existing financial problem.
A corrective action plan was also presented, but a resignation by Gray will probably change it.
She was not present during the meeting, but her resignation letter was presented to commissioners. Gray thanked them for support.
“I tried to enjoy my time here and enjoy my employment, but due to the less than desirable work environment created by the chief elected official of Garland, I can honestly say that I have not,” Gray said.
Gray noted that she hopes the town finds someone appropriate for the position and provides training required for the position.
The commission later accepted her resignation, which is effective June 19.
Garland will advertise to fill the position soon, but Commissioner Ralph Smith believes there should be more discussion about the position. He also said the next person should be well trained for the job.
“The workload here is so much that it’s impossible for one person to train another person,” Smith said.
Garland has faced several problems in the past with clerks.
In 2013, longtime clerk Teresa Vaught was charged with embezzlement by a public officer or trustee and a single count of financial card fraud. She served in her position until 2012.
During a February 2012 meeting, Vaught and deputy clerk Kristie Kersey were fired by the board. According to previous reports, the board claimed Vaught issued payroll deposits to herself and Kersey before the payment period was finished.
Pam Cashwell filled the void in 2012 and later resigned, giving no explanation for her decision in October. During that same announcement, Gray was named the town clerk/financial officer.
Town attorney resigns
Also Tuesday, town attorney W. Joel Starling Jr. submitted a letter of resignation to Murphy and the Garland Board of Commissioners, noting personal reasons.
“It has been my great pleasure to serve the Mayor and the members of the Board of Commissioners over these last two years,” Starling wrote. “Unfortunately, a growing number of other work and family commitments make it impracticable for me to continue to serve in my position as town attorney. We wish each of you continued success in the future as you go about doing the business of the people of Garland.”