Local Politics

Commissioners vote in favor of countywide audit

Posted July 7, 2008 7:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2008 1:06 a.m. EDT

— The Wake County Commissioners voted in favor Monday evening of a 2.5 year expanded audit for all county-issued credit cards in Solid Waste Management Division. Other county departments would have a 1-year review for county-issued credit cards.

The audit is in response to Craig Wittig's firing from his job as a recycling coordinator for the county's Solid Waste Management Division.

County officials found out he had taken at least 46 taxpayer-funded trips since he was hired in February 2006. The trips included whale-watching off the coast of Maine, four ventures to Disney World and a trip to a Las Vegas hotel.

Including Wittig, seven employees in that division charged $165,165 to credit cards issued by Wake County between April 2006 and last month, according to county records.

Some county commissioners have called for other employees to be fired in the case, but County Manager David Cooke said he is still reviewing the case to determine whether other disciplinary action is warranted.

“There's a personnel process we have to follow. For me to comment on what might be in motion would be inappropriate,” Cooke said.

Meanwhile, Cooke hopes this is an isolated case of what many people consider to be an abuse of the system. He and others want that uncertainty put to rest.

“I think the public deserves to know we're spending their money wisely and if we're not, we need to fix those problems immediately,” Commissioner Tony Gurley said.

Gurley believes that had this information been known prior to last month's approved tax increase, the outcome of that vote might have been different. The new tax rate was set at 53.4 cents per $100 valuation. Last year's tax rate was 67.8 cents per $100 of valuation.

“The tax increase can't be repealed, but we can not spend it. This year's budget was tight. Next year's (budget) will be even tighter,” Gurley added.

The credit card audit is estimated to cost from $125,000 to $150,000.

“I'm committed to looking for permanent savings coming through this audit or other acts so the taxpayer doesn't bare the burden for our mistakes,” Cooke said.

Initial findings from the audit are expected to be presented within 60 days.