McMurtrey opened the meeting saying that audits conducted through
the end of the calendar year 2014 were now completed, and had been
presented to the bureau. Simpson would be on hand to field questions
about the audit.
Continuing discussion of payroll payments to Andi Hake
Discussion in April quickly returned to a topic brought up at the
March meeting regarding the Tourism payroll.
Councilman Steve Parrott had asked about payroll checks issued to
Andi Hake in 2014 by the Tourism Bureau. His concern in March had
been whether the bureau could justify that Hake had worked hours
above and beyond her time spent as CEO of the Logan County Alliance.
Simpson was able to drill down to the root of the question and put
the council members at ease when she noted that in 2014, the
Alliance did not exist. Hake was an employee of the Lincoln/Logan
Chamber of Commerce, and took on the additional duties of interim
director of Tourism from June on that year, through the hiring of
Sarah Wallick in September. Hake stayed on the payroll after
Wallick’s hiring to provide guidance to the newly hired director.
However, Wallick's employment was short lived, and she left the
bureau in February of 2015.
The council members were satisfied with the answers from Simpson but
still noted that the March 2015 payroll seemed to be a lot higher
than that of March 2016. The group talked about who had been on the
payroll in 2015 that was perhaps not on the payroll in 2016. In the
end, Pollice asked that Simpson and McMurtrey pull all of the
payroll from March of 2015 and bring it back to the council for
Audit for July 1, 2012, through December 31, 2014, completed
Typically, the Tourism Bureau under operation as the Abraham Lincoln
Tourism Bureau of Logan County had conducted audits every three
years. Those audits had been conducted utilizing a fiscal year that
was in line with the State of Illinois fiscal year. Under the new
organization of the Tourism Bureau, the decision had been made to
conduct the audits through the calendar year 2014 and re-align the
fiscal year of the bureau accordingly. Therefore the audit had
covered July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013; July 1, 2013 to June 30,
2014; and July 1, 2014 to December 31st, 2014.
In addressing the issues of the audit, McMurtrey said it had been a
complicated audit because of the change of name for the Bureau and
the fact that many of the people who worked for the bureau in 2012,
13, and 14, are not working there now. She said that she wanted to
give the council fair warning that the cost of the audit was going
to be about double what had been expected, bringing the total cost
to about $16,000 for the two-and-a-half year term.
Simpson said that in general, the auditors had no concerns about the
accounting for funds, and had found no serious errors or
misappropriations. She said there would be a management letter from
the auditors that would address the fact that current staff was
unable to answer some of their questions due to a lack of first-hand
knowledge of the records. She noted that in the two-and-a-half year
audit period there were six checks issued that could not be
substantiated with documentation, but that the six totaled less than
Parrott asked if the auditors had expressed concern over this; and
Simpson said, no, they had not. He asked if there were any other
“red flags” that had gone up during the audit; and Simpson again
said no. She indicated that the audit had been very thorough, saying
she has spent a lot of time providing information to the
Taylor asked if the missing checks were a worry for Simpson. She
said no. She explained that all of the items appeared to be
purchases or reimbursements. She noted that one check, for example,
was written to Nancy Saul, and Simpson was relatively certain that
had been a reimbursement for items Saul had paid for out of pocket
for the bureau.
Parrott said there needed to be some rules for reimbursement put
into place, and McMurtrey said that has already been done. She said
that the rules now are that receipts for reimbursement must be
presented before the reimbursement. Also, she said, if the company
credit card is used and a receipt is not produced, the expenditure
may be deducted from an employee’s payroll check.
The council also discussed turning the audit materials over to the
city of Lincoln. McMurtrey told the council that the official
request for an independent audit of the bureau was now in hand, and
the tourism council needs to make a decision about granting the
McMurtrey said that at the last city council meeting she had
attended, she had told the council the current audit was nearing
completion. She noted that Alderwoman Jonie Tibbs had said something
to the effect that if the city were satisfied with the audit, it
might not need a second one.
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McMurtrey said she felt the thing to do was turn over the existing
audit report, and see if the city still feels the need for a second
audit. She added that if they do, the tourism bureau needs to
emphasize that the city should pay for that audit out of its general
fund, and not out of the money that could or should be coming to the
bureau through the hotel/motel tax.
Parrott noted that the first letter had no time limit for a
response, but that the city was going to send out a second letter
that would include a deadline to answer of May 1st. Pollice said
that was okay, but the bureau was going to respond now before that
second letter arrived.
He said that he wanted to give McMurtrey the authority to draft a
letter in response, saying that the Bureau was prepared to offer the
city copies of the current audit, then wait to see if the city
City distribution of hotel/motel tax dollars
In another discussion, the tourism council talked about a recent
city of Lincoln decision to give $12,000 to the Route 66 Heritage
Foundation for the Mill on Route 66, with the funds coming from the
In general, the group was in favor of supporting
the Mill but felt that they had been excluded from a decision that
impacted their annual budget. Parrott explained this had been an
11th-hour decision for the city council. Geoff Ladd had brought the
request to the council at a Tuesday night committee of the whole
meeting and needed a letter from the city at 9 a.m. the next day.
The tourism council said that fact made the city’s decision more
understandable, but it also opens a door for similar future
decisions to be made by the city instead of the tourism bureau.
McMurtrey put the expenditure into perspective saying that the
$12,000 given to the Mill was roughly the expenditure for one of her
paid positions, such as the bookkeeper. She said she would have to
work to figure out what she was going to take out of her budget to
accommodate the city’s decision.
The group went on to discuss its current structure. Right now,
dollars distributed by the tourism bureau to other organizations are
for advertising of events and promoting heads in beds in local
motels. However, the group agreed that the job of the tourism bureau
could and should also be to help create new attractions.
Those present said that they would like to create a funding program
wherein the Bureau could provide the funding for projects such as
the Mill. McMurtrey reminded the council members that it is time to
prepare a new funding agreement for the city of Lincoln and that now
would be a good time to incorporate new plans for the future.
The discussion expanded into creating a cash reserve policy for the
bureau. At the end of their last year, the Bureau had $45,000 that
they placed in an interest bearing account. McMurtrey suggested that
a project policy for expenditures like that for the Mill, could be
written in accompaniment with a cash reserve policy. Then it would
be a matter establishing that dollars held in reserve could be
utilized for projects as the bureau was able to afford.
The tourism council agreed that they would like to see a draft of
these policies at the May meeting. It was also recommended that in
drafting these new policies, city leaders be consulted for their
input on what these policies could look like.
- April 2013 –
Geoff Ladd resigned as director.
- July 2013
through October 2013 – Leslie Hoefle serves as interim.
- November 2013
through spring of 2014 – Nancy Saul serves as interim.
- Spring of
2014 – Robin McCallen hired, but leaves within weeks.
- June 2014
through September 2014 – Andi Hake appointed interim.
2014 – Sarah Wallick hired as director.
- February 2015
– Wallick leaves tourism bureau.
- April 2015 to
present – Maggie McMurtrey serves as director.