4 Persons In Office
Placed On Leave;
Has Been Informed
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
A routine audit of the Chuckey and Cross Anchor utility districts has found some "questionable practices by the management," according to certified public accountant David "Mickey" Ellis.
Four persons in the joint Chuckey and Cross Anchor office have been placed on administrative leave with pay following the findings, which have not yet been released to the public.
Chuckey Utility District Board President John Carter confirmed Tuesday that retired manager Shirley Collins and her husband, inspector Willie Collins, as well as their daughter, acting manager Kandie Jennings and her husband, Bill Jennings, have all been placed on leave.
Neither Carter nor Cross Anchor Utility District Board President Lloyd Dawson could recall Bill Jennings' role in the districts.
However, all four individuals are on the payroll, with Shirley Collins only recently retired and still providing consulting work, said Carter, who also represents the Second Commission District on the Greene County Commission.
All four will continue to be paid through the close of the investigation, which the board presidents and auditor Ellis say has been turned over to the State Comptroller of the Treasury for further investigation.
Tennessee Comptroller Communications Director Blake Fontenay said Tuesday that he is unaware of any such investigation, but that it is the comptroller's practice to not release any details concerning investigations until the findings are complete and made available to the public.
Carter, Dawson and the districts' joint attorney in the matter, Ed Kershaw, all said that the districts have not interfered with the current audit by Ellis and will not interfere if the state chooses to investigate as well.
'CAME ACROSS SOME STUFF'
"I had just started my audit and I came across some stuff that I'm required to submit to the comptroller under a three-way contract that the district, myself and the comptroller sign," Ellis said.
"It was a routine annual audit. I've done it for several years, but this particular year I ran across information that I thought met the requirements for me to send to the comptroller.
"The audit is just in the risk assessment and planning phase, which is in the front-end of the engagement," he added.
"We hadn't really started doing what we would normally do for an audit. It may or may not coincide with whatever the comptroller decides they want to do."
Carter emphasized that there is a temporary manager in place and that the utility districts' services will remain the same until the close of the investigation.
"This involves a lot of people's lives, and we don't want to do anything to damage anybody until this is cleared up," Carter said.
"I wish [the state comptroller] were here tomorrow to do their audit. It would be a lot easier on everybody.
"They'll investigate me, too, which is fine. If I've done something wrong, they need to tell me. We were doing what we've always done. Nothing's changed since I've served on it, probably 26-27 years."
Carter said that he does not believe he has done anything wrong in his actions as board president.
"To be honest, it's a mess. I hate it. The people were my friends, too. That's even worse," he said.
Neither the Jennings' nor the Collins' responded to attempts to reach them for comment on Tuesday.