Charleston City Council opposes audit proposal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston City Council on Monday overwhelmingly rejected a resolution related to reviewing the policies and practices of hiring temporary workers.

Councilmembers Shannon Snodgrass, Adam Knauff, Pat Jones, Jeanine Faegre and Courtney Persinger introduced the resolution during Monday’s meeting following a report from WCHS-TV regarding two employees hired through a staffing company. According to the report, the employees were paid for multiple weeks of work with no interruptions for holidays or personal days.

“All of us sitting in this room have a financial obligation for the finances of this city, and I don’t think there is really, honestly, anybody in here that doesn’t want to be transparent and accountable,” Snodgrass said.

The proposal would have required city officials to contact the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office about reviewing the city’s procedures for hiring temporary workers. State officials would conduct an independent review and update the city council regarding the inquiry and related findings.

“I felt like this resolution was fair and balanced,” Snodgrass said. “It takes the city out of it. It takes politics out of it.”

Councilmember Ben Adams was among the council members who raised concerns about the bill’s possible effectiveness. The city hires an auditor to review spending behaviors.

“Consideration of this resolution gives oxygen to an issue that is neither pressing nor public concern,” he stated.

Councilmember at-large Caitlin Cook agreed with Adams, noting officials have not raised any issues with the city’s spending during her tenure on the city council.

“We have three clean audits from the state auditor, as well as the independent auditing firm that the city contracts with,” she said. “I think our auditor does a tremendous job. I trust our auditor to be the expert. The auditor does not need us to say, ‘Please do this.'”

Councilmember at-large Jennifer Pharr stated she contacted one of the employees, who told the city councilmember that the pay was reported “erroneously.”

“I think as someone who is responsible for making votes in this chamber, we should actually have all of the information before we actually cast our vote,” she said. “It was not reported correctly.”

The employees did not receive benefits while temporary workers with the city.