FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn.(WHNT)-Lincoln County commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday night calling for the resignation of three county water department board members.
County Commissioner David Smith told WHNT News 19 that the motion passed by a vote of 14-9. Smith said he proposed the motion, which calls for the board members to step down within the next ten days. Board Chairman Larry Craig and fellow board members Wade Williams and Hugh Moffett have all been asked to leave after officials uncovered a shocking financial scandal that is now the focus of a criminal probe. All three board members have previously said they will not resign, but it’s not yet clear if they will reconsider after Tuesday’s vote by commissioners.
Prosecutors ordered the criminal probe after a state audit uncovered financial abuse and mismanagement of customer money.
The Tennessee State Comptroller’s office released the embarrassing 20-page report earlier this month, which detailed how the Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities wasted hundreds of thousands dollars worth of customers’ money, even as customer rates spiked upward. The unveiled state audit came a year and a half after WHNT News 19 broke a series of stories highlighting financial irregularities within the Lincoln County water department, which eventually caused former department director Billy Joe Wiley to resign.
Board Chairman Craig shrugged off a question over why the audit and probe were not discussed at a water board meeting earlier this month.
“What would’ve been the use in it?,” said Craig. “It’s an open book, we have nothing to hide, at least I don’t have anything to hide, and I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done on this board.”
The items listed in the audit include unauthorized weekly bonuses, illegally shredded documents and office credit cards being used to go the movies. The audit reportedly happened in a period spanning from 2008 to 2011. Comptroller officials detailed how Wiley spent close to $300,000 on the weekly bonuses, which covered tasks that ranged from showing up to work on time to spying on a co-worker suspected of adultery. Bonuses were also handed out in an “Easter Egg drawing” to celebrate the annual spring holiday.
Three LCBPU board members who oversaw the financial chaos are still on the job. According to the audit, those board members received improper discounts on their monthly bills and were overpaid by roughly $12,000 just for attending regularly scheduled meetings.