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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Brent Cash named new County Landfill Manager

Thursday, January 26, 2012

'Improper payroll transactions' alleged against former management

The Cherokee County Solid Waste Commission has hired a new Landfill Manager following a series of interviews with applicants after the former manager and his assistant were terminated in November, 2011.

Brent Cash has been hired as new Landfill Manager at an annual salary of $55,000 and benefits. Cash, a Marcus resident, has previous landfill experience, including working as an employee with Waste Management in Sioux City. His latest employment was with Builders Sharpening & Service in Cherokee.

He replaces retired former manager Denny Henrich, who has served on an interim basis since November when then Manager Don Pitts, and Assistant Manager Julie Mugge were terminated.

Mark Leeds
According to the Commission legal minutes, the preliminary audit for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 was presented at the Oct. 26 meeting, action was tabled, and the Commission went into closed session for 1 1/2 hours, before emerging and taking the action calling for the "immediate termination" of Pitts and Mugge.

Pitts was terminated on a 4-3 vote of Commission members, and Mugge terminated on a unanimous vote.

In a related matter at that time, the Commission also approved a motion to not pay any accumulated personal time off (PTO) to either Pitts or Mugge until further audit information could be obtained.

Commission members include representatives from all cities in Cherokee County and the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors.

They include Mick Mallory (Cherokee), Don Parrott (Washta), Mark Leeds (County Supervisors), Les Pedersen (Cleghorn), Roger Smith (Meriden), Steve Galigan (Marcus), Jeff Bowen (Aurelia), and Larry Nelson (Quimby).

John P. Loughlin is Secretary/Counsel, and John M. Loughlin is alternate Secretary/Co-Counsel.

Mallory this year replaces Ken Slater as the Cherokee member, and Leeds has been named the new Commission Chair, replacing the outgoing Slater, who was not reappointed by the Cherokee City Council and was considering retiring. Jeff Bowen was elected Vice Chair, and Parrott appointed Commission Treasurer.

Commission members are paid $40 per meeting and mileage, depending on their distance from the Landfill.

According to a news release issued this week by Commission Secretary/Counsel John P. Loughlin, Burkhardt & Dawson, CPA in Cherokee, at the request of the Commission, recently filed its audit report with respect to payroll transactions testing for the Solid Waste Commission for the period Jan. 1, 2003 to Oct. 31, 2011.

The agreed-upon procedures were requested by Commission board members as a result of concerns identified with disbursements for payroll issued to former Landfill Accountant Julie Mugge, former Landfill Manager Don Pitts, and former office employee Jennie Mier, Mugge's twin sister.

Mugge had been employed with the Commission for approximately 15 years, and Pitts for about 12 years, according to the audit. Mier no longer worked there.

The audit identified $37,180.49 of "unapproved, improper, or unsupported" payroll checks, disbursements, and other matters. They consisted of:

Mugge - Unapproved payroll checks, including payroll tax expenses in the amount of $23,199.31.

Mugge - Questionable expenses from Hy-Vee in the amount of $169.71.

Pitts - Unapproved payroll checks, including payroll tax expense in the amount of $7,016.71.

Pitts - Unapproved payroll checks while claiming workers compensation benefits in the amount of $3,436.69.

Mier - Improper and unsupported payroll checks, including payroll tax expense in the amount of $2,764.47.

Mier - AFLAC insurance premiums paid by Landfill after employment ceased in the amount of $593.60.

According to the audit, Pitts made a "voluntary repayment" on Nov. 4, 2011 in the amount of $4,644.10.

According to the auditors, the Commission's policy required dual signatures on all payroll checks and disbursements. The unapproved and improper payroll checks for Pitts and Mugge were signed by Pitts and Mugge.

Copies of the report have been filed with the Cherokee County Attorney's Office and also is available for review in the Office of the Auditor of State, and on the Auditor of State's web site at .

The Chronicle Times was unable to contact County Attorney Ryan Kolpin, but Commission Chair Leeds reported that the audit was filed with the County Attorney and charges are pending in the matter.

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