GBI Report on Tyrone Shows Loss of $54,853

Tyrone’s Council is unconcerned about a GBI investigation that revealed former mayor Sheryl Lee authorized payments of employee benefits in violation of the law in 2007. The report shows Tyrone’s Council adopted a Payment Plan in 1997 that only allowed leave to be accrued by employees up to 30 days on a “Use It” or “Lose It” basis. Upon resignation or termination employees may be paid for up to 30 days or 240 hours annual leave. Comp Time is supposed to be paid every two weeks, up to a maximum of 80 hours or 10 days, per year.
Testimony of former mayor Sheryl Lee: “In November 2007 Assistant Manager Valerie Caldwell asked Sheryl Lee if she and Town Manager Barry Amos could be paid for all their accrued leave and comp time. Sheryl Lee stated she was not aware that Tyrone had a specific Employee Pay Plan and authorized Valerie Caldwell to write Checks.” Valerie had kept the records for 18 years and both she and Barry were well aware of the plan, but apparently never told the Mayor about it.
Testimony of the Financial Manager Mary Sturm and Bookkeeper Dottie Butler: Butler said that normally she calls in Time Sheet Hours for automated pay by a company named Pay Check. But in November 2007 Valerie Caldwell called Pay Check. Both Sturm and Butler confirmed the town’s Payment Plan limitations on accrued hours; and said “Amos was paid $22,206.64 and Caldwell $24,258.39 in 2007” – in violation of the plan. Butler testified that the “Old Administration” never enforced the Payment Plan. Butler and Sturm said Amos & Caldwell ran the Town without any over-sight from the Mayor and Council which included Sheryl Lee, Gloria Furr, Grace Caldwell, Michael Smola and Paul Letourneau.
To make matters worse, Sturm and Butler said that after Barry Amos & Valerie Caldwell received excessive pay in November and December 2007 that Amos collected pay again upon termination in January 2008 in the amount of $11,625.84. Upon her termination Caldwell collected another $10,179.20. In other words, they were over paid twice.
Both the Old 2007 Council and the New 2008 Council allowed Amos and Caldwell to pay themselves excess benefits in the Grand Total of $54,853 of taxpayers’ money. All this was known in June 2008 by Audits of Time Sheets and the Council has covered it up and refused to do anything about it.
The current Town Administration whose responsibility is to protect public funds includes Town Manager Chris Venice, Mayor Don Rehwaldt, Council Members Grace Caldwell, Gloria Furr, Eric Dial and Tracy Young, plus Town Attorney Dennis Davenport.
In a proper representative government the GBI Report could be obtained by an open records request at Town Hall. However, due to the secrecy in Tyrone, you will most likely have to call GBI Agent Rodney Wall at (706) 565-7888.

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