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West Kittanning council rejects auditors' pay request

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 1:06 a.m.
 

West Kittanning's auditors won't be getting paid as much as they asked for on Monday night.

Council unanimously refused to pay the auditors $1,657 for the 2013 audit, which included a $500 payment for each auditor, along with $157 for the 628 copies made during the auditing process.

Instead, the board agreed to pay each auditor a flat rate of $300.

Carol Augustine, chairwoman of the auditors, said each member of the three-person board put in 98 hours of work preparing the annual audit and charged 25 cents for each page, which were made on their personal printers.

The auditors include Augustine and Cheri Lindsay, who were elected in November, and Michael Holly, who was appointed in January.

Augustine said the three-person board primarily met in Lindsay's home, and each one used their own printers, ink and paper to produce copies. They marked their hours on a calendar, which she did not bring to the meeting.

Augustine said borough code allows auditors to charge up to $1,000 for their services.

The borough agreed to pay the auditors $300 each for the report and could have paid more if the auditors had approached council before submitting a bill, said Councilman Ken Trudgen.

Last year, the borough paid its auditors $300 each, he added.

“Any kind of increase has to come to and be approved by council. And, if the auditors want an increase, come to council before doing the audit,” Trudgen said. “We can't just let you set your own pay rate.”

Trudgen said the auditors, who told council to be sure to hold onto all receipts, did not provide council with any receipts for the 628 copies.

Before the audit began, Councilwoman Paula Henry said council instructed the auditors to contact borough secretary Carly Cowan to make any copies. They wanted to avoid being billed for any copies needed by the auditors, she said.

“We sent them an email explaining they needed to let us know if they needed copies,” Henry said. “Carly would have made any copies they wanted.”

In the audit, Augustine said they found a suspected $1,165 overpayment to a former borough employee and questioned how officials monitor employees' timecards. They questioned why officials paid sales tax on several occasions, when the borough is considered a tax-exempt entity.

The auditors wrote about the discrepancies and made several recommendations on how to fix them in a nine-page report they gave to council on May 7.

Henry said the report the auditors gave council contained a lot of personal opinions and suggestions on how the board should operate, instead of actual discrepancies.

Augustine said council's payment amounts to $5.12 per hour, which is below Pennsylvania's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The auditors feel slighted and frustrated by council's actions and plan on taking further action, she said.

“I don't know what we're going to do, but we're definitely not done with it,” Augustine said. “We're just really upset and disappointed with council, and we're wondering if they actually read through the notes.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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