Mayor calls for probe of city finances

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Mayor James Perkins Jr. has requested a &uot;full-scale investigation and review of all city finances&uot; following allegations of mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds in the General Services Department.

In a press release issued late Tuesday, Perkins stated, &uot;I have forwarded a letter to the State of Alabama Public Examiner’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Attorney General and Ethics Commission requesting a full-scale investigation and review of all city finances, to include, but not limited to, all departments, discretionary fund spending, cash management, accounts receivables, payroll, and contracts during this administration and as far back as necessary and allowable.&uot;

In a subsequent interview, Perkins said he was made aware

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in early September of an alleged financial transaction involving a number of General Service employees and an individual resident. Perkins said the resident contacted him personally to question the transaction.

After agreeing that the transaction raised a number of questions, Perkins said he asked the individual to gather more information. The resident later returned with an affidavit.

Perkins said he then called in city Personnel Director Valeria Jones and those employees involved in the transaction, which he said involved $300.

Following that meeting, Perkins said he placed the employees on administrative leave without pay and is continuing to research the incident. He added that if he had found a pattern, the employees would have been terminated, not suspended.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Councilman Glenn Sexton said the Alabama Department of Public Examiners needed to look at Selma’s finances because of unspecified problems with city finances and with the city’s General Services Department.

Perkins agreed. &uot;I’ll be there to greet them and hand them any documents they want,&uot; he said. &uot;In fact, I may invite them.&uot;

That invitation became a reality on Tuesday.

Sexton made his statement prior to an executive session held Monday night. Perkins said that based on what he heard in that executive session and his knowledge of the financial transaction, he has cause for concern.

Perkins added that if anyone had knowledge of improper financial transactions involving city employees, they should contact his office. &uot;Let my phone ring off the hook,&uot; he said. &uot;I really want this cleaned up.&uot;