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Atco leaders suspended from audit findings

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March 27, 2008

Pearson - An audit presentation Thursday revealed more unlawful spending by leaders in Atkinson County.

Now county officials are suspended.

Atkinson County Clerk Joyce Taylor Solomon and Deputy Clerk Judy Mancil are suspended with pay after County Commissioners heard an audit into county spending.

The audit said the Atkinson County Commissioners unlawfully spent nearly $400,000 in SPLOST funds on projects that were not laid out in a referendum and approved by the voters.

"We swiped all this money out of the SPLOST accounts and used it in the general fund to fund our operation," says Robb Hurst of Hurst and Hurst, CPA.

Many of the funds should have gone toward capitol projects.  Instead the sales tax dollars paid for fuel, equipment repairs, maintenance and other projects.

The audit also found bonuses were paid in cash and kept off the books.

It noted irregularities in record keeping and payroll activity which resulted in former Commission Chairman Edwin Davis being paid more then the approved salary.

It also said the county had a net loss of nearly $700,000.

"We don't have enough fund balance to fund the county for another year without this board taking a serious look at some of the financial information in this report.  I can't clean it up and make it any prettier than that.  This board has a significant job ahead of them," Hurst says.

The County Commission says they will now meet with attorneys to see if any criminal prosecution may be forthcoming and what must be done to correct Atkinson county spending as quickly as possible.

Lamar Parks, the director of the Solid Waste Management authority in Atkinson County was also suspended with pay while the commission looks into unlawful spending at the authority, which was revealed by the audit in a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

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