Commissioner Calls For Cash Ban On Private Work Payments

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-A Madison County commissioner says he wants to close an existing loophole dealing with private work payments to rural commission offices, a factor that was part of a recent scandal involving taxpayer dollars.

Commissioner Eddie Sisk said he plans on asking fellow commissioners to approve a new rule that would ban cash payments for private work projects in the county. Rural commissioners are currently allowed to pave driveways and install drainage culverts for homeowners who are willing to pay for the work.

The homeowners can pay via personal check or cash, but Sisk said it leaves open the door for financial misconduct as evidenced by a recent state audit that implicated his predecessor, Jerry Craig. The report by state auditors found that Craig and his former secretary, Kay Sims, are jointly responsible for $176,000 of misused taxpayer funds, with much of that money being attributed to private work cash that was improperly documented and never accounted for.

“I think it will be a way of making sure we have accountability for all the money coming in,” said Sisk. “With cash, it’s just so easy for it to go in different directions…Since all of this has come out I’m trying to figure out a way to have better accountability.”

Commissioner Sisk said another recent change that requires all private work checks to go directly to the county courthouse ensures that individual commissioners or staff cannot tamper with them. Sisk said he’s hoping to have a vote on his proposal at the next Madison County Commission meeting.