Letters to the Editor

Aug 14, 2019

Improper City payments

 

Last week’s article was a good description of how Mukilteo spent $250,000 without council knowledge or approval. There are additional considerations.

What is called “internal control” is an extremely important requirement for any organization. It encompasses the financial policies and procedures designed to prevent improper financial transactions. Internal control requires employees to comply with these policies and procedures to make internal controls work.

Marko Liias’ $6,500 tuition was reimbursed without having required documentation. When discovered eight months later by Councilmember Whelpley, the finance director told the council that she put that payment into salary expense instead of tuition expense because required tuition documentation was not provided. Of course, the payment did not meet the requirements for salary expense either but that was not mentioned or questioned.

All expenditures are listed in detail for council approval at their meetings except salary payments. The tuition reimbursement was not listed. It was put into salary expense, effectively hiding it from council. The internal control that requires payments be made when properly supported was not followed. This was known to be improper when it was paid. A violation of internal controls.

Severance agreements called for payments to be paid in the same periodic way as employees’ salaries or until the former employees had another job, whichever came first.

For example, if an employee had another job one week after leaving the City the employee should only receive severance for one week, not the maximum two or three months.

Departing employees received two month’s severance in lump sum, or in the case of Marko Liias, three months lump sum. Departing employees received more than the agreements permitted. They were not asked to return the overpayments. Payments were not made in accordance with severance agreement provisions, another significant violation of internal controls.

Tuition reimbursement and severance payments were not made in accordance with internal control requirements that, if followed, protect the City from making improper payments. State Auditors missed these or for some other reason did not bring it up. If payments are being made without proper documentation or are not following payment provisions spelled out in agreements, the City’s internal controls cannot be relied upon to prevent other improper payments.

Failure of finance management to follow required payment practices and internal controls needs to be addressed. The mayor and council have not yet done that in their many discussions and published articles about these matters.

 

Charlie Pancerzewski

Twice Former Councilmember

Mukilteo

 

Khan gives his thanks

 

First, I would like to say that I am very grateful to all Mukilteo residents that have continued to show support for me during the primary election and this next upcoming general election. I am also thankful to Mukilteo firefighters and community leaders for their support and endorsing my candidacy for the council position. My gratitude goes to the Korean community and Sikh community for spending endless hours helping me waving signs and doorbelling along with me to get my message out.

If it had not been for my supporters and many other people that believe in me, I would not have been able to reach to this stage without this much support in Mukilteo. As I said earlier, my campaign is all about providing Mukilteo residents with a better-connected community and to forward our growth as a diversified city.

 

Riaz Khan

Mukilteo City Council Candidate

 

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