Statements reveal bank blunders for Jellico

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By Beth Braden

 The town of Jellico spent nearly two weeks in the red last summer as finance problems slowly came to a head.

It was May when the town first became overdrawn, according to bank statements obtained by the LaFollette Press. 

The statements are records of only some of the town’s accounts according to Mayor Les Stiers.

“That’s for most of the accounts, not all of them,” he said. 

May 14, 2012, was Monday-a payday for the town’s employees. The town ended the days of May 15-17 overdrawn by as much as $14,000.36.

During that three-day span, 35 checks totaling $11,130.36 were posted to the account.

The mayor said he had no idea the accounts had become overdrawn until the president of Union Bank told him. 

“I’d get a call from the bank president saying, ‘bring money.’ That’s how I’d know,” he said. 

In June and July, the daily balance didn’t dip below $10,000. In August, the problems returned. 

On Aug. 17, the account became overdrawn by $1,557.50. The balances at the end of the day on Aug. 15 and 16 were $117.29 and $22.94.  On Aug. 20 - the next payday - there was $10,766.91 in the account. The account was back in the red by $7558.50 on Aug. 22. 

One week later, on Aug. 29, the town was $9,722.47 overdrawn. The month ended on Aug. 31, still more than $5,000 in the negative. 

October, once again, brought problems. 

Oct. 15 was another payday, only this time, no checks were issued and the employees went three extra days before being compensated for the previous week’s work.

On Oct. 11, the Thursday before payday, the town was $2,552.13 overdrawn. There wasn’t a positive balance in the account again until Oct. 17 when balances reached $2,574.26. 

When the employees were cut their late checks on Oct. 18, the town only had $3,499.21 in the bank. By the next day, that total had grown to $33,162. 

Alderman Alvin Evans said he tried to address the overdrawn accounts issue with the mayor.

“I tried. It’s just like the council doesn’t exist,’ Evans said. 

After the employees didn’t get paid in October, the state comptroller’s office became involved with the town, though the office denied repeated requests for comment about the town’s finance issues. 

In December, bank balances began looking up after part-time certified municipal finance officer Sondra Denton began working with the town. 

At the end of that month, there was $57,992 in the bank. In January, the town always had more than $40,000. February and March ended with more than $100,000 in the bank. 

The town is currently in the process of finding its own full-time CMFO and working on the 2013-14 budget.