- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

LINCOLN, N.D. (AP) - The Lincoln City Council has decided to use lawyers to collect the overpayment of wages to city employees.

The council voted Thursday to authorize Vogel Law Firm to proceed with collection efforts from employees after a discussion during a 21-minute closed meeting, the Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1STx0Wq ). The move follows the Jan. 25 resignation of deputy auditor McKenzie Forman.

Turnover has been frequent in the city auditor’s office during the past 18 months, with three auditors replaced since October 2014. Paula Hunt was named city auditor last fall. After former auditor Mary Marvel was fired from her duties in the fall over bookkeeping errors, council member Karen Daly was assigned to help draft the 2016 budget before an early October deadline.

At the meeting, Lincoln Mayor Gerarld Wise reassigned Daly’s finance responsibilities to council member Erv Fischer and assigned Daly the city beautification portfolio.

Wise questioned Daly’s interactions with the auditor office’s staff, saying she was only talking to the deputy auditor when everything that passes through the office goes should go through the mayor or the auditor.

“We have gone through a whole bunch of efforts to get this city cleaned up. Paula has taken on a huge responsibility,” Wise said. “I feel in this effort it’s been sabotaged in a way.”

Attorney Justin Hagel, of the Vogel Law Firm, said he is studying a claim made by Daly that the mayor restricted her access to the city office and whether he had authority to do so over a city council member.

Earlier in the meeting, Daly challenged the city’s $30,000 expense in hiring the private firm Brady Martz to correct the city’s financial books, claiming the firm made mistakes in spending line items.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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