County board, clerk in a mess

Published 7:58 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019

If state Auditor Shad White’s office is correct, some Lincoln County officials are in trouble.

White last week issued a $165,000 civil demand to Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop for failure to reimburse the county for employee salary expenses from his office.

Bishop has said that no money is missing, which means he believes White is mistaken.

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“There is no money missing. It’s an accounting error, and all the money went where it was supposed to go,” Bishop said.

Someone involved in this matter is either wrong, confused or both.

White is also after four Lincoln County supervisors for voting to improperly pay a chancery clerk employee with county funds.

They are on the hook for $5,600 each.

“It’s critical that officials abide by spending rules. And taxpayers in the county should not be on the hook when an official doesn’t abide by the rules,” said White.

It’s possible all this will get sorted out and no one will have to pay White’s office anything. But if it was going to be sorted out easily, it likely would have happened already. White first made the alleged issues in the Chancery Clerk’s office public in December.

Supervisors are likely unhappy with their attorney and county administrator, the people they depend upon to keep them out of this sort of trouble.

The Chancery Clerk’s office is a complicated machine and it’s doubtful supervisors know all the ins and outs of how it works. But the folks who help keep the county running should.

That’s likely why the board voted 4-1 to retain the county administrator’s services for another year after a closed door meeting.

Supervisor Doug Falvey was the lone “no” vote. He said Fields was not acting competently as county administrator.

If White is correct, there is plenty of blame to go around with much of it resting on Bishop’s shoulders. If that’s the case, taxpayers deserve an apology and their money back.

If White is wrong, he owes Bishop and the supervisors an apology.