The results of the auditor’s report doesn’t come as a surprise after Indian River CFO Patrick Miller was put on administrative leave earlier this year.
State Auditor Tom Wagner, R-Delaware, received reports of alleged financial misconduct by Miller in January. That caused his office to open an investigation. Miller, who has been with the district since 1998, was placed on administrative leave in April, and officially retired at the end of June.
In his report, Wagner states his office found a general lack of financial oversight within the district. Wagner writes, “The blind faith placed in the CFO allowed him to create an environment ripe with intimidation tactics, favoritism and nepotism.”
Several Indian River employees told Wagner they were forced to share their log-in credentials for the state’s accounting system. Wagner said that is a “blatant violation” of the state’s computer usage security policies.
There are a number of other problems Wagner discovered, but the biggest centers around how Miller spent the district’s money. The audit found Miller gave more than $20,000 in district funds to the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company and more than $32,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Oak Orchard/Riverdale. Those payments are especially questionable because Miller was serving as board president for both organizations.
Wagner also writes that Miller made other inappropriate or questionable purchases without proper documentation. “These purchases included a Teacher of the Year ceremony held at Baywood Greens for approximately $7,000, Alex and Ani bracelets totaling $352.80 for certain district office staff, and a Tiffany and Co. bracelet for $380 as a recognition gift to the superintendent,” Wagner writes. He also says the district also paid for an abundance of in-state meals that didn’t meet state requirements for school district spending.
In a letter of response to the audit report, district superintendent Susan Bunting and board president Charles Bireley write that the district’s new director of business is now closely examining all district spending. “District leadership will assure that funds are more prudently expended in the future,” Bunting and Bireley write.”
You can read the complete audit report below: