MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 14, 2013

Boynton mayor sidelines clerk

Suspension of elected official after audit review is in question

— Alleged discrepancies discovered during an audit of Boynton’s financial records prompted the mayor to relieve the town clerk of her duties.

Tiffany Mayo, who was elected the town clerk in 2009, said she was confused about the directive, which she received Tuesday. She said that when she arrived at City Hall that day, she found that her computer password had been changed, leaving her unable to conduct town business.

After Mayo made several attempts to make contact with Mayor James Holt, she received a text message from him, she said. The message indicated she “had been relinquished of her duties by order of the state auditor,” she said.

Trey Davis, a spokesman for the office of State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, confirmed that Holt and Jones had discussed the audit and its findings. But he said that directing an order such as the one Mayo said she received is nothing the state auditor would do.

Holt declined to provide details about the audit findings, his decision to relieve Mayo of her duties, or whether he even has the authority to issue that order. He did say that he expects town trustees will meet next week to work through the situation.

Mayo, however, said Holt indicated the discrepancies involved allegations she had overpaid herself. Mayo denied that, saying she has documentation authorizing every payment she has received for work she performed for the town.

Ernie Moore, the executive director of the Eastern Oklahoma Development District, said the audit at the center of the dispute was required before grant funds designated for repairs to Boynton’s sewage lagoons could be released. Moore said the audit exposed concerns about the town’s financial records and how they are kept.

One red flag, Moore said, is that town trustees have authorized only one signatory on its bank account. He also cited allegations that certain purchases had been made without authorization of the town’s trustees.

“We can come in and help get proper books set up, but you have to have that separation of duties,” Moore said, noting that his agency was dragged into the situation because it helped the town obtain the grant funding needed for the sewage lagoons. “What we are concerned with now is the survivability of the town.”

Boynton has endured some tough times during the past few years. Town officials were embroiled in a scandal involving allegations of nepotism and Open Meeting Act violations in 2010. Some of those allegations resulted in convictions.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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