Fortenberry claims questioned funds transfer was her salary, vacation and comp time

Published 2:06 pm Thursday, November 18, 2021

NATCHEZ — A day after Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson released a statement about an investigation into a questionable transfer of city funds into an external bank account, former Natchez City Clerk Servia Fortenberry said the money being questioned was her salary, vacation time and compensation time.

“My last day was Monday. Payroll was last Friday. I did my payroll, vacation and comp time,” Fortenberry said. “All of the transfers are documented. They went through my regular log in. Everything is in the clerk’s office.”

Fortenberry

On Oct 12, Fortenberry resigned as city clerk to pursue other interests. She has a private business she wants to focus on, she said. Her last day was Monday, Nov. 15.

At the time of her resignation, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson and the city’s board of aldermen praised her work. Fortenberry and her team completed three past-due audits in a single year and are credited with cleaning up what was an accounting department in disarray.

Fortenberry said her last payroll included regular pay of approximately $2,300, vacation pay of 120 hours worth approximately $3,000 and compensation time of 240 hours worth approximately $6,000.

“I do payroll. I’m the city clerk. I haven’t talked to him (Mayor Dan Gibson). I don’t know what’s going on. He went right for the jugular,” Fortenberry said.

She said she plans to send documentation for those payments to City Attorney Bryan Callaway and to the State Auditor’s Office.

“All of the documentation is in the city clerk’s office, just as it should be,” Fortenberry said. “Chief Green, Chief Armstrong and several other employees all received their comp time when they left the city. This is defamation of character.

“I have a recording of the mayor saying how wonderful our department was, and when I resigned, it all changed. We got all of those books straightened out. I’ve been doing this job for 24 years. I have eight other mayors that will vouch for this job that I do. This was payroll,” Fortenberry said.

Gibson released a statement Wednesday evening in which said he had been made aware late Friday of a questionable transfer of funds from a city account to an external account.

“On Saturday morning at 9 a.m., I reported this matter to the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office, who agreed that the city should take immediate steps to address the situation,” he said.

Gibson said he asked the Natchez Police Department to investigate.

“That investigation has now been completed and turned over to the Mississippi State Auditor. Now that it is under the auditor’s control, the City of Natchez can make no further comment,” Gibson said.

He did not name a person or any city department as being involved in the questionable transaction.

Contacted again on Thursday, Gibson said he could not make any other comment on the matter and referred all questions to the state auditor’s office.