The news is getting around to Potterville residents and County Journal readers about the dismissal of former city manager Wanda Darrow after an investigation revealed Darrow’s son, Eddy, and former employee of the city had stolen several thousand dollars via unauthorized checks, as well as other city property. The findings of the investigation and the subsequent firing of Darrow appear, however, to be having a ripple effect for the City of Potterville.
Since Darrow’s exit from her position in the city, the city clerk, Tessa Wightman, resigned from her position, leaving the city’s administrative roles quite bare. Brad Boyce, former DPW employee for the City of Potterville, has stepped into the role of acting city manager for the time being, but is operating with hours significantly less than Darrow’s, according to Potterville city councilwoman Katherine Schmidt. She is concerned the city will be unprepared to facilitate the upcoming November election due to the vacancies. The council is taking action to start the hiring process for a city manager, according to Schmidt.
Schmidt’s concern for the city, however, while inclusive of the vacant administrative roles, is more focused on the city’s precarious financial situation. According to Schmidt, the city’s current budgetary predicament includes, but is not limited to, thousands of dollars in bank errors and errors in bank reconciliations, a bookkeeping lag of approximately three to six months, lost revenue from a recent road project, and a projected deficit of as much as $32,000.
Throughout the turbulent tale that’s unfolded in Potterville in 2018 with fire department debates, lawsuits, and investigations, Schmidt, as well as councilman Jeff Bussard, have reiterated that the city had not budgeted for mounting legal fees. At the public forum in which the Potterville City Council reviewed the findings of the investigation involving Eddy Darrow, Bussard insisted again the investigation, as troubling as the findings were, would not be the city’s biggest problem if the budgetary issues were not settled.
Schmidt noted that every year the city has to go through an audit from the state. With as far behind as the city is with the books, an audit won’t be pretty, not to mention time is running out to get the audit done before the end of the fiscal year.
“The clock is ticking for a state audit,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt has spoken at length in the last year about upholding the integrity of office and title within municipal government. At an April 19 council meeting, the Potterville City Council voted not to approve payment of city bills, an action Schmidt tried to remedy by calling an emergency meeting, which was not met with quorum. The trend of financial irresponsibility is one Schmidt fears will not go away without outside intervention.
“We have a deficit, and there’s no plan to fix it.”