- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—A former Mt. Pleasant financial director said she accidentally was overpaid for her retirement package, which prompted some city commissioners to vote for the dismissal of City Manager Michelle Williams.

During a recent Mt. Pleasant commission meeting, it was revealed that Debbie McMullin had received about $80,000 from her retirement package with the city. She was not present at the meeting.

McMullin requested her retirement be rolled over from the city’s retirement fund into another account with other monies owed to her by the city, she said.

BenefitMall, the city’s third party administrator, then incorrectly completed her request form. She was sent a check at a value of her full benefit, Mt. Pleasant City Attorney Tom Hardin said.

“She essentially got paid twice,” Hardin said.

The Daily Herald made multiple phone calls to BenefitMall that were not returned Monday.

In December 2014, about $60,000 was transferred to McMullin’s account, of which the IRS took about $16,000. The same day the money went to her account, she contacted the investment firm but did not receive a response. McMullin had her attorney then contact the city and informed them of the incorrect payment, she said.

“I had to claim it on my taxes, and I know when I file my taxes again there will be penalties. I just don’t want to be left with the the financial responsibilities that someone else made,” she said.

On April 24, McMullin’s attorney sent a letter to Williams and Hardin saying she did not expect to suffer any financial consequences from the situation. She did not receive a reply from the city until two weeks ago, McMullin said.

“It’s just a matter of getting it straightened out, which is cumbersome when you are dealing with an investment firm, third party administrator and the IRS. You have got multiple parties and trying to get them all on the same page is difficult,” said Hardin.

The subject was brought up shortly before Commissioner Mike Davis made the motion to terminate Williams as city manager.

Vestal, along with Mayor Bob Shackelford and Davis, voted to end Williams’ contract. Commissioners Delores Blankenship and Ricky Frazier cast dissenting votes.

Williams fired McMullin from her position with the city in July 2013.

“As a board member, I should have known about it. A number like that should have been brought to our attention,” Vice Mayor George Vestal said.

At the meeting, the board brought Blankenship into question because she was the only commissioner to have known about the situation before the meeting.

Blankenship said she heard about it several weeks prior to the meeting after she walked into the financial manager’s office and overheard the subject being discussed. Hardin then requested that Blankenship not discuss the situation with the other commissioners because of possible legal consequences, Blankenship said.

“A lot of these things go on in the city that the commissioners don’t know about, until it comes to that,” Blankenship said.

When considering the situation as a whole, McMullin said, “I’m trying to be proactive rather than reactive. People will say whatever they can to promote their agenda.”

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