- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) - Pine Bluff officials are taking corrective actions in response to finance violations found in a recent audit report, they said Tuesday.

The Arkansas Legislative Audit report for 2013 found Mayor Debe Hollingsworth spent almost $17,000 on monogramed shirts for the police and fire departments without proper authorization. She purchased the clothing from Class A Apparel Graphics, a company that’s owned by a city employee. Hollingsworth received nearly $3,000 for nonbusiness travel reimbursements for a trip to Maryland, according to the report.

The mayor was out of the office and unavailable for comment Tuesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1p1dUMd ) reported.

The trip violation was due to improperly documented receipts and will be corrected, said Steve Miller, Pine Bluff’s finance director.

The City Council will meet next month to vote on an ordinance that could negate the unauthorized spending of the shirts. If the measure passes, the city will be able to legally conduct business with stores and firms owned by city employees.

“There has never been an ordinance on the books that allowed the city to do business with an employee,” Miller said. “Class A Apparel offered the best price for the shirts, so that is why they were chosen.”

Passing the ordinance would “properly nullify the violation,” said Tim Jones, audit manager for the Arkansas Legislative Audit.

The audit also determined the city was violating a state law by outsourcing its payroll to a private company, as well as lacking internal control in terms of financial duties. City officials have “responded and indicated that their offices will segregate the duties” in accordance with the state’s recommendations, the report said.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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