Bedford County Public Funds Used To Buy Questionable Items, Report Says

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nearly $47,000 of Bedford County Emergency Communications District funds were spent to buy brand name clothing, expensive meals and other questionable items over a period spanning more than six years.

That was one of the key findings in an audit released today by the comptroller’s division of the local government audit. The Bedford County Emergency Communications District receives 911 fees collected from telephone bills to provide enhanced 911 emergency telephone service for the area it serves.

While the district’s former director claimed the clothing purchases were for employee uniforms, receipts show that items were purchased from Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Cabelas, Dillard’s and several small specialty stores.

The former director also charged numerous meals to the district’s credit cards in situations in which there was no documentation that she was traveling overnight on business. Examples of these charges included an $84.84 tab at J.Alexander’s restaurant in Franklin and a $40.03 tab at Toot’s in Murfreesboro. In addition, meals were purchased by the former director while on overnight travel status even though she had already received a travel advance which included meals and incidentals.

There was also little or no documentation to verify other purchases the former director made were for business-related purposes, including a bag purchased at a Coach store in Pigeon Forge, two iPods, two Nooks and a Bosch Pro Drill. The bag, the drill, one iPod and one Nook have not been returned to the district.

The audit also identified several other problems:

· The former director, board members and employees routinely received travel advances without filing follow-up expense reports to document how the travel advances were spent.

· Employees were sometimes reimbursed for meals when they were not traveling and for personal vehicle mileage expenses when they were traveling in district-owned cars.

· Cell phones issued to district employees appeared to be used for personal purposes based on usage charges for downloads, pix/flix messaging, and hot spot service.

· The district also purchased some goods and services without putting them out for competitive bids, including a new SUV and heating, ventilation and cooling upgrades to the district’s communications center.

“Whether money is collected through taxes or surcharges on telephone bills, it is still public money and should be spent only for purposes that benefit the public,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Many of the expenditures outlined in this report simply should not have occurred. The district’s board of directors needs to do a better job of oversight to prevent these types of issues from cropping up again in the future.”

To view the report online, go to:http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/la/


Chattanooga Police Warn Of Mystery Shopper Scam

The Chattanooga Police Department alerts the community about a Mystery Shopper Scam which may be occurring in the area. The scam sends out fraudulent checks along with a letter to potential victims, wanting them to deposit the fraudulent checks into their bank accounts. They then request the victim to buy iTunes gift cards and send the information from the cards to them via email.   ... (click for more)

Gainesboro Man Charged With Impersonating A TBI Agent

An investigation by   special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of a Gainesboro man charged with impersonating a TBI special agent. At the request of 16 th  District Attorney General Jennings Jones, on Thursday, TBI special agents  began investigating a report that an individual had entered a massage business in Murfreesboro ... (click for more)

CVB Should Share Financials With The Home Folks

The recent debate over the Convention and Visitor's Bureau's funding and budget has gotten ugly. A Hamilton County commissioner has asked questions and made comments about the CVB. The director of the CVB has organized a campaign to dismiss the commissioner's questions and comments. The children on the playground are choosing sides and nothing useful seems to be happening. It's ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Haggling Must Stop

Far be it for me to suggest the Hamilton County Commission and the School Board need to spend more time at recess but it was obvious this week the two groups need to work at being better friends. We have nine county commissioners and just as many corresponding school board members to work together for the betterment of one entity – Hamilton County. Everybody who thinks that is happening ... (click for more)

Legendary Howard Coach Henry Bowles Dies At 80

Legendary Howard High Coach Henry Wesley Bowles, Sr., has died at the age of 80 after a lengthy illness. Coach Bowles was born in Chattanooga on Oct. 14, 1936. He graduated from Howard High School, class of 1955, and received his bachelor of arts degree from Lane College, Jackson, Tn. While at Lane College, he was student council president, business manager and Who’s Who among ... (click for more)

Silverdale Girls Claim District 5-A Championship

The face and philosophy might have changed, but the expectations for the Silverdale Baptist Academy girls’ basketball team remained the same. Heading into the season with five seniors and a first-year, first-time head coach in Victor Underwood, the Lady Seahawks had their sights set on winning a District 5-A championship. Wednesday night, they achieved that goal with ... (click for more)