TALLADEGA COUNTY -- The Talladega County Commission voted unanimously Monday evening to set bond requirements for employees working in certain positions in the revenue commissioner’s office, including deputy revenue commissioners, chief accountant, accounting tech, revenue supervisor, revenue clerk III, title clerk and redemption clerk.
County Administrator Pat Lyle said during a work session preceding the meeting that “the proposal had been discussed before, and everybody thought it was a good idea.”
“We’re bonded and we don’t even handle money,” Chairman Kelvin Cunningham said the commission members. “Employees in the Probate Office and even the county engineer is bonded, so we thought this was something that needed to be done. Mrs. Lyle said we could do it, and we agreed it needed to be done.”
Cunningham added the new bonding requirements were not related to the recent resignation of an employee in the Revenue Office in advance of news breaking about a recent felony arrest and a criminal history in other counties.
In recent months, the commission has also reached out to the Revenue Office by hiring a certified public accountant to catch the office up on bank reconciliation and rewriting the job descriptions in that department as part of a county-wide effort.
“The department said they needed some assistance,” Cunningham said. “They needed to bring the bank reconciliations up, and the CPA will help them do that.”
Revenue Commissioner John Allen, who took office in February 2018, said he has several open positions, “and I would love to be able to add some.”
There are four vacant positions, including one for the bookkeeper who resigned last week, although he said one of those may be coming back.
“Outsourcing the reconciliations is quick BandAid until I can get some more full-time employees,” Allen said.
He said he planned on doing some hiring and letting the CPA get to work as soon as this year’s delinquent tax sale and subsequent grace period ends.
The Revenue Office was last formally audited in 2016; there were four findings, all of which Allen said were resolved before he came to the office. However, the failure to reconcile the bank statements had been a recurring issue since at least 2004, according to the report.
“We’re doing well,” he said. “Without looking, I’d say the General Fund is in good shape, checks to the cities and school systems are going out. We’re collecting about the same amount as would be expected, less some abatements and things like that.”
He added he had called in a state auditor early in his tenure to make some recommendations.
“I may be the only person in the whole state who would like to have an auditor in my office all the time,” he said.
Stevi Mahaffey was hired as a bookkeeper in the Revenue Office in July 2018.
According to court documents, she was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and carrying a pistol without a permit in Springville in late March and is out on bond. She resigned her position last week.
A background check obviously would not have turned up the current arrest, but court records show she had some criminal history before being hired.
Documents also show she was arrested in Shelby County in July 2015 on charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, specifically Suboxone, a narcotic, and Clonazepam, a sedative. Possession of a controlled substance is a felony, but Mahaffey pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of possession of prescription medication without a prescription, a misdemeanor. She was given two years probation.
While on probation, Mahaffey was arrested on a charge of shoplifting and for allegedly failing several drug tests, including one that was allegedly positive for both marijuana and a masking agent. She was subsequently jailed on a charge of probation violation.
Allen said he did not comment on personnel matters as a matter of policy and out of legal expediency.
The Allen and Mahaffey families appear to go back some ways. Steve Mahaffey, Stevi’s father, worked with Allen’s grandfather, who was also Talladega County revenue commissioner. The senior Mahaffey was an honorary pallbearer when the senior Allen passed away, along with former state Sen. John Teague and current state Rep. Ron Johnson.
Also Monday, the commission:
Amended an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to add a six-month time frame to a project regarding the addition of guard rails in six different locations;
Authorized Cunningham to sign a change order with Motorola Solution that would add extra equipment but not increase the annual cost;
Approved two conference requests;
Announced that offices will be closed May 27 for Memorial Day; and
Heard Cunningham announce there would be a community cleanup day in his district June 1.