NEW ALBANY — Action has been taken by the Floyd County Council amid ongoing difficulties with auditor Scott Clark.
At Tuesday's meeting, council members unanimously voted no confidence in Clark. President Denise Konkle said that the council has been thinking about taking such a vote for "quite some time."
“It’s just gotten to the point that we couldn’t wait any longer," she said. "The county is really at risk unless we do something about getting an auditor in that office and getting the activities that need to be done done. We’re putting the county at risk every day that they’re not done.”
Clark, who was not at the meeting, said he had no comment on the council's actions.
The main issue, according to council members, has been fines accrued by Clark's office. An audit report from the State Board of Accounts recently received by the council showed that Clark owed $21,406.71 for failing to properly file an employer's quarterly federal tax return and the late remittance of payroll withholding taxes. Now, another fine of roughly $6,000 is being assessed for similar issues.
Konkle said that over 10 fines have been issued to Clark, with a running total of approximately $45,000 since 2016 alone.
“I’ve been on the board of the county council for three years, and it’s been going on ever since," Konkle said.
Council vice president Brad Striegel said Tuesday's vote of no confidence was a "necessary but unfortunate step."
"I think that this is a situation that has gotten progressively worse with the performance of the auditor and the execution of his duties," Striegel said. "I feel like we’re boxed in a corner. We have nothing left to do. We have asked him if he needs help in anything, and he continues to say no. We have pointed out issues, and he seems to either ignore it or explain it away. I feel like he has boxed us into a corner, and we have no other option. It is that critical. Enough is enough on the liability and the risk that he has put on this county.”
Both fines were paid for out of county funds, but Clark did not seek permission for an appropriation from the council either time — something Striegel said is a formality meant to uphold accountability. The SBOA found Clark personally liable for the $21,406.71, but he failed to meet the deadline to pay that money back.
“Those funds were asked for Mr. Clark to pay back, either by himself or his bond, his insurance," Striegel said. "In doing so, he is past due now of the date that they wanted that reconciliation, so now the attorney general is involved because he has failed to comply.”
An underlying issue pointed out by council members is Clark's absence during office hours.
“If you take a job, you need to be here to do that job," council member Dale Bagshaw said. "I’ve even addressed privately with him that perception becomes reality a lot of the time. If you’re not in your office, the perception is you’re not working. We’re all part of this team working for the county, working for the taxpayers, and he’s a cog in that wheel that’s not functioning.”