Mannsville responds to critical state audit - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Mannsville responds to critical state audit

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MANNSVILLE, Okla. -- Emotions are running high in this Johnston County town following a heated City Council meeting on Monday night.

Last Thursday, the Oklahoma State Auditor's office released a report saying tens of thousands of dollars may have been misused by the Mannsville municipal government.

 At one point, one citizen and a former state representative started to have a physical confrontation. The regularly scheduled Council meeting was called off early because of the arguing, and KTEN has learned this isn't the first time that has happened.

The audit followed years of investigations by state inspectors. It found that the Town of Mannsville may have misused up to $80,000, and town Treasurer Shonda Barnes was singled out in the state's report.

Shonda Barnes did not appear to effectively execute the statutory duties of a town treasurer in the collection and depositing of utility billing revenue.

"We did the best we could with the records that we had," Barnes said.

Mannsville audit

Town employees said Mannsville had not been conducting annual audits, which means the town did not have access to gas tax.

But according to Mannsville Treasurer Shonda Barnes, the penalty was cheaper than hiring an auditor.

"To go back and to do an audit from 2012 'til now, we would end up costing around $36,000, and we would recover $1,600 in tax revenue," she said.

More than 100 pages of findings by state investigators put Barnes under the spotlight along with volunteer Fire Chief Derek Gray. According to the state auditor's report:

Derek Gray, the fire chief, was compensated $2,557 in contract labor without an official contract with the Town ... Gray also appeared to have been paid two pay checks for the same time period totaling $1,080.

"Well that's true, I did," Gray conceded. "And then I gave it right back to them, and I was like, 'Well, I got one here,' and I gave them one of them, which they were the same check, just different check numbers.  And they wrote 'Void,' big as day."

Barnes said there is an explanation for every item that was questioned in the audit, and other Mannsville employees agreed, saying there has been no wrongdoing.

"I have worked with Shonda for over two years. Shonda has never ever done one thing wrong," said the town's account clerk Linda Perry. "The state audit was a bogus thing to begin with. It should not have even have happened."

But the state auditor's office said it faced a lot of problems collecting evidence.

During our investigation cooperation from the Town was limited and the Town’s records were disorganized, incomplete, and at times missing. When records and transactions were available for review they often did not comply with law, ordinance, policy or best business practices.

Residents of Mannsville are divided on the issue. More than 80 citizens petitioned to request the state audit, and Larry Johnson said he agrees with the findings of irregularities.

"There's lots of things on there that have not been explained, monies that can't be accounted for," Johnson said.

Barnes pledges that Mannsville will conduct annual audits from now on. She said they are going to try to be more organized, and keep paperwork more secure.

Here is the state auditor's report detailing the finances of the Town of Mannsville between July 2011 and December 2015:

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