EXCLUSIVE: West Texas City In Financial Bind, Due To Former City Leader 10/18/12
CBS 7 News Reporter
October 18, 2012
PECOS COUNTY, TX – The city of Balmorhea is in a financial bind. City officials stated that several vendors checks and one city employee's paycheck bounced after the former city secretary wrote unauthorized checks for city expenses, including one for himself.
The city of Balmorhea is trying to bounce back, after their finances took a dive.
"It set the city back. It hurt us in several different ways. The bank called with the checks that had been sent back," stated Balmorhea Mayor John Davis.
Right before resigning, city leaders stated that former City Secretary Abel Baeza wrote 2 $10,500 checks to pay the city's auditor, with money the city didn't have.
“It put us in a bad spot because the $21,000 wasn't there, which is a felony offense to write any check without a dollar amount being there to cover that check …especially that large of an amount,” stated Balmorhea Mayor John Davis.
City officials said he wrote a $3,000 check for himself; then cashed it two weeks early. They stated that this action caused 9 vendors’ and a city employee’s check to bounce.
Mayor Davis stated it's a decision that should have been approved at a board meeting. Davis said as time went by for several weeks and Baeza never told him about the fees.
Former Balmorhea Secretary Abel Baeza stated that he did not do anything illegal.
"The money that I wrote for the $4,000 check, the $3700 ...it was for money that was owed to me for comp time," stated Former Balmorhea Secretary Abel Baeza.
But according to the city employee handbook, a worker has to wait 2 week for his final check. It’s a fact Baeza says he knew about, but did not follow.
"In retrospect I could of done it differently. I didn’t do anything wrong except I did it 2 weeks early," said Baeza.
As for the checks to the auditor, Baeza stated that he knew the money wasn’t in the account and it was the city's responsibility to transfer money over. Now the city of Balmorhea is left with the tab.
Balmorhea city officials said they are looking into filing a lawsuit against Former Secretary Baeza. Baeza holds his stance that he has not done anything wrong.