Documents Show Alpine Payroll Advances Given To Administrative, Police Employees 1/21/14
CBS 7 News
January 21, 2014
ALPINE-New information tonight on an elaborate system of payroll advances for city employees in Alpine. The news comes on the heels of a state investigation of the city’s financial practices.
Now CBS 7 has been shown documents that appear to show city employees took $141,000 in advances in 2012. And one city leader could not say if it was all paid back.
According to the records we obtained, about 42 employees were taking hundreds to thousands in payroll advances. The money came from employees in administration, maintenance and even the police department.
$141,000 dollars. That’s how much city employees were advanced in 2012. CBS 7 obtained documents from Alpine Resident Pete Smyke, who published them in The Big Bend Gazette. Smyke said he wasn’t satisfied when the city turned down his first request for the info.
“Well, There was a lot of noise about payroll advances in early 2013 before the audit report came up and there was really not much information coming from the city,” said Alpine Resident Peter Smyke. “What still bothers me is that there were a number of people involved who have fiduciary responsibility to the city, responsibilities of trust towards the citizens, they were police officers, the city secretary, finance clerks, the water billing clerks.”
According to the documents, police officers took in $34,730.00 in payroll advances in 2012. Topping the list of city employees is now former finance director Ricky Chavez took about $24,000 in advances. Current City Secretary Molly Taylor took just over $18,000
“Did you pay those payroll advances back in 2012, yes or no?”
“I’m not allowed to talk to the press, everything goes to our city manager,” said City Secretary Molly Taylor.
Tonight, The Alpine City Council met in executive session to discuss a visit by the Assistant Attorney General. According to council member Mike Davidson, the payroll advances are under scrutiny by the state.
“We’ve looked into the minutes from years past and cannot find any resolution or ordinance that authorizes that activity and from what I’ve been told by our finance department, some of those advances appeared on the books as early as 1986,” said Councilmember Mike Davidson.
Davidson said the advances were not budgeted for, coming out of the general fund. We asked Davidson whether all the funds were paid back.
“I still think there’s some outstanding investigation ongoing in that regard,” Davidson said.
According to the documents, there is even an instance of some of the employees being issued checks from the general fund, and those employees signed over or gave that money right back to the city as repayments for advances.
“Folks that owed advances had issued city checks to themselves and used those checks to pay back those advances and then there was a backdated deposit as well,” Smyke said.
The city says it has since stopped the practice of payroll advances as of early 2013.