Inspector general’s report confirms Pahokee improprieties

WEST PALM BEACH — The office of Palm Beach County Inspector General John A. Carey issued a report May 6, stating that complaints it received in December 2017 about improper closings of the Pahokee City Hall and unauthorized bonuses paid to employees by City Manager Chandler Williamson were true.

Specifically, allegations that Mr. Williamson “inappropriately closed City Hall and gave city employees paid vacation without authorization from the City Commission” were found to be supported by facts. The OIG also documented that he “inappropriately awarded holiday cash bonuses of approximately $100 each to all city employees in December 2016 and December 2017 without authorization from the City Commission.”

What’s more, the OIG report says it could not determine from city records the total amount of money that was given in unauthorized bonuses to employees.

“Taxpayer dollars were wasted. Taxpayer dollars were provided that should’ve been approved by the council. Time is money and you are actually giving the taxpayers’ dollars away,” said Inspector General Carey.

He added that the city’s own ordinances specify such actions must be approved by city commission vote.

A local television station attempted to contact the city manager at City Hall that day, but reporters were told he was in a meeting by Sophia Nelson, Pahokee’s community development director. Mr. Williamson did not return calls or respond to an email from the station seeking comment.

“I think the official comment would be no comment from the city itself,” Ms. Nelson was quoted as saying by CBS12 News in West Palm Beach.

There were no responses to this newspaper’s emails seeking comment from Pahokee Mayor Keith Babb, Vice Mayor Clara Murvin, Commissioner Felisia Hill nor Commissioner Benny L. Everett III. Commissioner Regina Bohlen declined to comment. (Mr. Williamson sent a reply Monday; visit https://lakeokeechobeenews.com/?p=19888)

The inspector general’s report made recommendations for how the city should comply with its ordinances and said city commissioners needed to approve a policy on employee bonuses before giving out any more. City Commissioner Everett told a CBS12 reporter that they’re now doing that.

Chris Felker can be reached at cfelker@newszap.com.

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