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Supervisor Falvey: ‘All we’re doing is asking for trouble’

A Lincoln County supervisor’s three-minute rant about wrongdoing by the board Monday was met with 13 seconds of silence followed by an executive session on possible litigation.

District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey, before the board cleared the room for a planned closed-door meeting with attorney Bob Allen to discuss possible litigation, spoke up to clear the air concerning the board’s part of a $165,000 civil demand issued May 14 by State Auditor Shad White to Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop for failure to reimburse the county for employee salary expenses from his office.

Falvey, along with supervisors Eddie Brown, Bobby Watts and Nolan Williamson, were also issued civil demands related to voting to improperly pay the salary of a chancery clerk employee with county funds.

Falvey said that’s not the case and wanted to correct the information published in The Daily Leader in a story May 23 about the board voting 4-1 to retain David Fields as the county’s administrator following a lengthy executive session that stretched over two meetings. Falvey was the lone “no” vote.

“Before we go into executive session I want to make a comment on something the paper put in. It was put in, not in error on their part, but what they put in was wrong. It implied that the board voted improperly to pay an employee in your office. And that’s not true. The board never voted on it,” he said. “Alright, let me put it this way, I’m speaking for Doug Falvey. I never voted on it. The item never came to the board minutes to be voted on and if it was voted on some other way, I don’t have any idea.”

Falvey said this is the “third slap in the face” for the board in six months “and it’s time for it to come to an end.”

His concern is that “the people think that we voted to pay that employee and that’s not true and I want the public to know that we didn’t vote for it,” he said. “Because if the penalty gets paid, what’s the public going to say? ‘Well, they were guilty. It’s paid.’ And that’s wrong. I just want you to know, we continue to keep on doing things that’s not right and I don’t understand it. I just don’t.

County supervisors can vote to pay chancery clerk employee salaries if reimbursed by the clerk’s office.

Investigators from the auditor’s office concluded the supervisors voted to pay these salaries, but Bishop failed to reimburse the county for over $125,000 in employee salaries from 2015 to 2018, according to the auditor’s office. This was discovered after a field auditor identified accounting irregularities during an audit of Lincoln County, according to a press release from White’s office.

“It was never voted on, but it was in the folder of the minutes for that month. How it got there or anything, I don’t have a clue,” Falvey said. “But guys, that’s no way to run a business and this board, like I said, has been slapped three times for stuff that we had no idea what was going on but yet we continue to go along with it.”

“I ain’t going along with nothing,” Rev. Jerry Wilson, District 1 Supervisor and board president said.

“And it’s just wrong. We sign contracts when they come to the board. And on the bid, we just sign them,” Falvey said. “We pay thousands of dollars for insurance because we were covering stuff up and it’s time for it to stop.”

“I agree with that, Bro. Doug,” Wilson said.

Falvey continued.

“It just seems like we just want to shun it away and let it go,” he said. “We just ignore stuff and then we wonder why the auditor comes down and we say the auditor is picking on us. The auditor is not picking on us, he’s doing his job and we’re not doing ours. Now we can like it or not like it, it doesn’t matter to me no more.”

As an example, Falvey pointed to audits completed by the county’s volunteer fire departments and several criminal charges because of embezzlements that were discovered there — separate incidents at New Sight VFD in 2010 and 2014 and one at Bogue Chitto VFD in 2016. The board agreed to have an outside auditor look at the books.

“Everything was OK for a year and a half until we found something wrong with one of them and what did we do? We turned it back over to internal audits,” he said. “Guys, does that make sense? All we’re doing is asking for trouble and we sit back here and let it happen every day and nobody says a word about it.”

After 13 seconds of silence, Wilson spoke up.

“You through, Bro. Doug?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m through,” he said, before the board went into executive session.

Allen said no action was taken following the executive session.

Bishop, who did not seek re-election, is retiring at the end of his term after 20 years. After the meeting, he directed comments to Trae Sims, a partner with the law firm Taggart, Rimes & Graham PLLC and Bishop’s attorney in this matter. However, Sims is on vacation and can’t be reached, so Bishop made a short statement following the meeting.

“I don’t have anything negative to say about Mr. Falvey or any of our board members. They’re good people,” he said.