SPENCER — Stacks of unmailed checks and a box of unopened mail dating to December 2011 are just part of the chaos state auditors say they uncovered during an investigative audit of financial records for the city of Spencer.
“Overall, we found the city's records to be poorly maintained, vague, inaccurate, and, in some cases, contradictory and/or missing,” state Auditor Gary Jones said in a report released Monday.
Revelations of problems within Spencer's financial offices initially came Friday when three city employees were charged with felony embezzlement — accused of pilfering nearly $7,000 in municipal funds.
Charged with embezzlement were Shenice L. Huff, 35, a former city clerk; Andrew Payne Thompson, 32, a former deputy city clerk; and Lakeita V. Barbee, 40, a suspended utility clerk.
But the city's problems go beyond embezzlement.
Money to make pension contributions was withheld from the paychecks of police and fire employees, but the city was frequently late — sometimes by more than a year — in depositing those checks with the pension systems, auditors said.
The city also withheld money for child support payments from some employees' checks, but failed to forward those payments in a timely manner to the Department of Human Services.
Employees told auditors they were threatened with contempt of court and suspension of their driver's licenses because of the delinquent child support payments. One employee said the city's tardiness resulted in DHS taking more money out of the employee's monthly paycheck.
Numerous other irregularities were noted by auditors, including:
• Unexplained and unsupported payroll checks to former Deputy Clerk Thompson totaling $3,881.85.
• Undocumented overtime paid to Thompson totaling $4,428.
• $2,395.94 in undocumented and unexplained payments to Huff.
• Compensation of $110 a month to City Manager Nicole Mukes for mobile and Internet service that was not part of her employment contract.