“An investigation released Monday by the Washington State Auditors Office says the Yelm Cemetery District superintendent misused $62,000, depositing district money in his personal bank account and giving himself unapproved raises and unauthorized employee benefit payments.
Findings in the investigation were forwarded to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorneys Office, said Mindy Chambers, spokesperson for the auditors office. She identified Tony Ward as the districts superintendent implicated in the investigation.”
“The state auditors office is recommending that the district attempt to recover more than $77,000 from Ward, including investigation costs. According to the report, the district board must also improve oversight of cemetery operations, including adopting policies and procedures to more closely monitor revenue and expenditures.”
“The investigation also found that the district had no formal policies or procedures in place to cover daily operations such as cash receipting, purchases, employee reimbursement and payroll and that it operated on verbal agreements.
In a response to the auditors office, cemetery district commissioner Judith Cusick stated that the board needs new policies and oversight but also defended the commissioners, saying the elected volunteer board depends on employee honesty and integrity.”
This is totally consistent with the City of Yelm’s lack of oversight, doing the minimum to get by and appearance of conflicts of interest that continue to this day.
1. This is not the first time in the last decade the Yelm Cemetery oversight has been in the news.
2. Appearance of ignorance and/or neglect on the city’s part for not placing a lien against unpaid expenses owed to the City of Yelm in the hundreds of thousands of dollars by Thurston Highlands.
3. Appearance of a conflict of interest for the Yelm Chamber of Commerce placing a sitting Mayor as their President.
4. Appearance of conflicts of interest in the Wal-mart Street naming and placing of the Yelm Chamber sign on city land..
While Cusick is correct that employee honesty and integrity were expected, ALL of these things seem to indicate people in Yelm leadership positions that do not understand nor know standard business operating practices and principles where of additional oversight and avoidance of appearance of conflicts of interest are employed.
The same can be said of the recent revelations in the Rainier Area Building Community issue (RABC is the parent corporation to the Rainier Historic Society, the Rainier Food Bank, the Ol School Thrift Shop and Ol School Gallery, all housed in the Rainier Historic School), – lack of proper oversight of the Treasurer.