Florida clerk resigns

FLORIDA – Town Clerk Jacquelyn Francisco has turned in her letter of resignation, according to town officials.

Supervisor William Strevy said Francisco notified the town she would resign in a letter dated Feb. 12. Her resignation is effective Feb. 28.

Her resignation comes after an audit by the state comptroller’s office revealed around $19,000 in tax funds had gone missing from the town.

Brian Butry, spokesman for the state comptroller’s office, said the comptroller’s office had been brought in at the behest of both the Town Board and Montgomnery County Sheriff’s Office.

The report of the audit said the sheriff’s office contacted the comptroller’s office in June about the cash shortage.

An audit of the town clerk’s financial operations was initiated after an investigator told the comptroller’s office it appeared a family member of Francisco’s gained access to and stole cash from tax collections.

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Two part-time clerks have been brought on for the remainder of the year, due to the havoc the situation has put the town into, Strevy said.

Strevy said the situation is being handled as gently as possible, hoping to allow Francisco some dignity.

“She is going to be sadly missed by everyone in the town,” Councilman Eric Mead said.

The report said the town clerk notified auditors during their review that she feared a family member gained access to taxpayer funds and removed them.

The audit said the money was kept in an unrestricted and unsecure location inside of Francisco’s “personal tractor repair store” and her home. Anyone who entered the store had access to the funds, the report said. The funds have been fully paid back.

Strevy said charges were not filed against the unnamed relative.

“[The Town Board] see no need in pursuing this further,” Strevy said.

“It is very unfortunate this had to happen,” Mead said.

Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeffery Smith said that he could not identify the family member, saying that once charges were declined, it was out of the control of the sheriff’s office.

The report noted Francisco said she sometimes left a family member unsupervised in her store or home with unsecured collections.

However, the report also noted insufficient record keeping and oversight ultimately led to the missing funds.

The audit, which went through records between Jan. 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, said there was at least $19,107 missing, with money transfers placed in an attempt to cover up the shortfalls.

According to the report, the missing money had been put back into the account by Francisco.

The comptroller’s office gave a number of suggestions to the Town Board to improve financial operations, including providing oversight of the tax collection process and auditing the clerk’s records annually.

In a letter attached to the audit, Supervisor William Strevy said actions suggested in the audit already have been implemented.

“The town of Florida Town Board appreciates the efforts made by your office to identify weaknesses within the Town Clerk’s Office Operations and will strive to correct all,” Strevy said in a response to the audit.