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State auditor report: 4 county demands repaid

A report released this week by the state auditor shows demands for a total of $22,664 from four Lincoln County supervisors have been settled, although no payments have been made toward a $165,813 demand against the county’s chancery clerk.

Lincoln County accounted for four of the 64 formal demands statewide issued by Shad White — 23 more than the previous year — in the annual audit exceptions report listing instances of “misappropriation, misspending or theft of public funds” over the last fiscal year, according to Logan Reeves, a spokesman for White’s office.

Exceptions refer to accounting errors or violations of the law, which result in misappropriation, misspending or theft.

The full 2019 Exceptions Report can be found at osa.ms.gov.

District 2 Supervisor Bobby Watts, District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson, District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown and District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey were issued demand letters May 15 for voting to improperly pay one of Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop’s employees for performing bookkeeping services for the clerk’s office. Each demand received by the supervisors is worth $5,666 and includes investigative costs and interest.

Bishop paid the demand for each of the four supervisors, he said.

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 May 14. The demand Bishop received is worth $165,813.11 and includes investigative costs and interest.

Bishop has said there is “no money missing” and that it’s an accounting issue.

He said the repayment of the demand is still in negotiations with state officials and it has not been paid.