DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — A audit that found Walton County Commissioners had used indiscriminately and in some cases illegally county-issued credit cards spending thousands of taxpayer dollars will be addressed Tuesday at a special meeting called.
The 1 p.m. meeting at the DeFuniak Springs County Courthouse will take place before a 2 p.m. budget discussion and the regular 4 p.m. county commission meeting, according to Acting County Attorney Clay Adkinson.
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“I would like the Registrar to be present to discuss some of the audit findings and answer questions from the commissioners,” Adkinson said. “This will be the first opportunity for the commissioners to discuss this in an open forum.”
The Clerk’s Office declined to comment on the audit or whether Courts Clerk Alex Alford or a representative would be present.
The audit report, which was produced in April but not made public until last week, showed that the five county commissioners had committed what the clerk’s office described as “card deviations from purchase”.
In the case of Commissioners Danny Glidewell, Trey Nick and Tony Anderson, the auditors examined spending dating back to October 1, 2019. The spending habits of Commissioners Mike Barker and William “Boots” McCormick were examined for the period following their election. in 2020.
“Purchase card transactions have been identified as unauthorized by county purchase card policy and, in some cases, by Florida statute,” the report said.
In total, the discrepancies discovered amounted to just under $41,375, with Nick tied to $21,586, or more than half, of questionable expenses.
The State’s Attorney’s Office for the First Judicial Circuit received a copy of the report Thursday and is currently reviewing it, according to agency spokesman Frederick Longmire.
The report also listed $40,788 in missing travel vouchers. Glidewell and Nick were responsible for just over $34,000 of the unaccounted receipts, with Glidewell failing to deliver $17,613 in travel vouchers and Nick $16,395.
County Purchasing Policy states that any travel expense charged to Purchasing Cards must be included on an employee’s travel voucher.
“No travel expenses will be reimbursed unless requested on the established form,” the report said.
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Auditors found 155 acquisition card transactions for which travel vouchers were not issued. Glidewell failed to provide travel vouchers documenting 63 transactions between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. Nick failed to deliver 30 vouchers during the same period.
“Without a submitted travel voucher (auditors were) not always able to determine the necessity of the charge or verify that travel took place,” the report said.
The report also cites a state law that dictates that “uniform” travel vouchers created by the state Department of Financial Services will be used by state officials, employees, and authorized persons to record expenses.
“No travel expense claim” will be approved without proper documentation, the law says.
Adkinson said on Friday he advised the commissioners to refrain from speaking publicly about the audit ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. Barker, the commission’s chairman, and Nick did not return phone calls.
But Glidewell apparently decided to take her frustrations to the court clerk and county staff in a Facebook post.
“I returned what was asked of me and I want to know why the employee paid anything without the proper documents. I want to know why they did not ask for the documents a long time ago”, wrote Glidewell in response to a question on his Friends of Danny Glidewell Facebook Page. “I screwed up and trusted the clerk and administration to book business travel appropriately.”
Glidewell said all future travel plans for him would be made by his office, “not the administration,” and promised, “I’ll have a lot to say on Tuesday.”