MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 23, 2013

Boynton financial records show chasm

Nothing has been recorded since 2008, mayor tells trustees

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— BOYNTON — Boynton officials have not kept financial records in four years, the mayor said at a meeting Friday.

“I went in there and searched and found 20 years of records, but none since 2008,” Mayor James Holt told the town’s Board of Trustees at a special meeting. “We don’t have nothing for auditors to look at.”

The board hammered out several financial issues at its special meeting. Most were strategies to get record keeping on track, officials said.

The meeting began with the three trustees and mayor voting to ask the Eastern Oklahoma Development District to help the town learn how to keep financial records.

Holt told the board it is imperative they “get things done right from now on.”

“I can’t justify the back records not being there,” he said. “But I can from here forward.”

The board also voted to ask the state auditor and inspector’s office for a financial audit, a task that the mayor said he wants the town to be prepared for.

“If we have a set of records showing we’re trying to do something when the state gets here, we have a chance,” he said. “If we don’t, we’re liable to lose it all.”

The board members voted unanimously on several ways to begin keeping records, including:

• Creating separate police, court and town bank accounts.

• Making all three trustees, the mayor and the town clerk signatories on all accounts and requiring two signatures on every check.

• Purchasing a pre-paid gas card for the police department each month and keeping track with receipts of gas expenditures and mileage.

The board tabled a decision on removing a $200 personal vehicle allowance for city employees and instead enacting a mileage reimbursement plan.

The board also voted to have the mayor get prices for three different safes for the Town Hall and bring them to the next meeting, when the board will vote to buy a safe.

Boynton has seen problems with former town officials who were involved in a scandal involving allegations of nepotism and violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.

Some of those allegations resulted in convictions of former trustees in 2010.

Boynton’s recent focus on getting financial records in shape came about after a regular town audit found problems with how records are kept and concerns with purchases being made without authorization of town trustees.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

At a glance

Special meeting of Town of Boynton Board of Trustees

Agenda items approved:

• A request to the Eastern Oklahoma Development District for assistance with financial records and bookkeeping.

• A request for an audit by the State Auditor’s office of the financial records of the Town of Boynton.

• Closing accounts at American Bank of Oklahoma and opening new town account at Morris State Bank.

• Setting up a police department bank account.

• Setting up a court bank account.

• Requiring two signatures on each check, making all three trustees, the mayor and town clerk signatories for checks and making the mayor and town clerk the primary signatories.

• Purchasing a pre-paid card for police department gas in the amount of $500 per month and requiring the department to present receipts for each purchase for record keeping.

• A request for the mayor to seek at least three different prices on safes for Town Hall and present them to the board at the next meeting for a decision to purchase a safe.

Agenda items tabled

• Changing vehicle allowance to mileage allowance.

Discussion only:

• Requiring the police chief to be at the school bus stop each morning Monday through Thursday.

• Requiring the police chief to purchase gas at the local station as often as possible.