Vidalia Board of Aldermen votes to hire independent auditor to investigate alleged wrongdoing

Published 12:07 am Friday, February 12, 2016

VIDALIA — The Vidalia Board of Aldermen voted Thursday to hire an auditor to investigate an allegation of employee wrongdoing.

Who the employee is or what they are alleged to have done are being kept under wraps. All that has been said so far came in a written statement from Mayor Hyram Copeland, who said that through the city’s checks and balances system, the city identified a “potential discrepancy” in one of its departments.

The board met in executive session for two hours Thursday before coming out and approving Alderman Tron McCoy’s motion that the city engage an “independent auditor to review the personnel issue for which this meeting was called.”

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After the vote was taken, Copeland said that, “At such time as the report is completed, the town will take the appropriate action and release the appropriate statement.”

While the reason for the engagement of an independent auditor has not been released, the move by the aldermen comes approximately a week after the city’s annual audit was completed. The audit has been submitted to the state but is still pending review before its public release.

The first hint of potential wrongdoing on the part of a city employee was raised Tuesday, when Alderman Ricky Knapp unsuccessfully tried to add an executive session item to the agenda at the board’s regular meeting to discuss a potential investigation.

Copeland said Thursday the council couldn’t have added the item to the agenda Tuesday because state law requires written notification to an employee 24 hours in advance of discussing them in executive session so they can have the opportunity to be present if they so choose.

“These are the lives of real people we are discussing here,” he said.