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May 7, 2013

New Albany council approves money for paving, sirens

Questions again raised over bicentennial bookkeeping


NEW ALBANY — Bicentennial bookkeeping again questioned

Former New Albany Bicentennial Commission Treasurer Vic Megenity addressed the council about alleged mingling of funds for the first time publicly since resigning four months ago.

In January, the News and Tribune reported that Megenity had approached Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration and the commission about the actions of the body’s vice-chairwoman, Barbara Zoller.

According to Megenity, one of the main causes for concern stemmed from the Stories Behind the Stones event held last September at Fairview Cemetery.

Megenity said 300 tickets were sold for the bicentennial event for $10 each, however only about $1,100 was turned in to him along with a note citing $1,700 in credit card payments had been accepted.

Additionally, Megenity said Zoller’s sister, Patty Hughes, had reserved venues and paid for other expenses related to bicentennial events with checks from her personal account.

In an interview with the News and Tribune, Zoller said the Stories Behind the Stones event was paid for with money raised by a separate entity, The Living History Committee, and that no city or bicentennial funds were used.

She added receipts were kept for all expenditures.

However Megenity told the council Monday that after he raised the issue, he was called into a meeting in January by Councilman Bob Caesar, who is a co-chairman of the bicentennial commission.

He said the meeting was also attended by administration officials David Duggins, who is the director of redevelopment and economic development, and Robison.

“I was at first surprised. Then I thought no, I guess I’m not surprised,” Megenity said of the attendance of Duggins and Robison at the meeting, which was apparently called as an executive session by Caesar.

Zoller was appointed by Gahan to the commission when he was serving as city council president.

Megenity said during the meeting, Caesar said he planned on firing him, as well as the commission’s assistant treasurer, Alice Glover.

Megenity said Caesar inferred that there were issues between Glover and Zoller that were driving the disagreement over funding.

But Megenity said that over a four-month period, he provided Gahan, Caesar and Duggins with a list of nine nonprofit violations that occurred as a result of the actions of Zoller and Hughes, and the lack of documentation of the expenses.

Megenity said he read a statement during the meeting, and resigned after he was finished. He said he was told a private entity would be auditing the commission’s books, but questioned whether that’s actually occurred.

The council has appropriated $66,000 in funds for the bicentennial committee, and Megenity said the city should be concerned about the bookkeeping and use of the public money.

“Has it been spent wisely?” he asked. “Where is that money? How was it used?”

The council adjourned the meeting, and only Councilman Dan Coffey addressed Megenity’s statements.

He said he was confident in Caesar’s ability to provide the council with accurate financial numbers related to the bicentennial.

However the council hasn’t received a financial report for 2012 for bicentennial expenditures.

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