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State audit questions former Lawrence mayor

Posted: 6:02 PM, Jun 06, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-06 22:02:58Z

LAWRENCE, Ind. -- In a new report, the Indiana State Board of Accounts paints a picture of mismanagement and overspending under former Lawrence mayor Dean Jessup.

According to the report, the city of Lawrence did not accurately portray its financial picture. It says the city failed to reconcile bank statements, spent money it didn't have and failed to deposit fees in a timely manner.

The state audit, which covers the period of 2013-2014, is 22-pages long and addresses 10 fundamental failings of the Jessup administration's handling of city finances.

"We couldn't tell how much money we had, and we knew how much money we had in the banks, but it didn't match what amount our system was showing," said Jason Fenwick, Lawrence deputy mayor and controller.

State auditors chided the administrator for unauthorized transfer of water utility monies to pay the mayor's nephew's salary and general city expenses, and for its failure to remit even a single dime of sales taxes to the state.

The report also said the former mayor, over that two-year period, overspent 11 different line-item budget categories by nearly $6 million.

Former council vice president Linda Treat said she and others tried unsuccessfully to interest outside law enforcement agencies to look into Lawrence's spending.

"To go home at night and know that you took care of your family, you take care of your friends and you didn't take care of the city – that's completely wrong," Treat said. "You took an oath when you took this office, and you didn't follow through."

The new city controller says it will take years to get Lawrence back on a sound financial footing and in the good graces of the bond rating agencies.

Jessup declined RTV6's requests for comment on this story.