Clerk-treasurer, employee she fired disagree on Carmel’s ability to complete audit

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The Carmel clerk-treasurer and the employee she recently fired have very different assessments of the city’s ability to complete the annual State Board of Accounts audit in an office that is now short-staffed.

The city council called a special meeting April 23 to investigate the ability of the clerk-treasurer’s office to conduct its business after Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley fired internal controls director Ann Bingman on April 17. Several councilors expressed concerns that the city would be able to complete the audit without Bingman, the only CPA employed by the city.

Pauley told the council that her office has already provided all of the information needed for the audit to the city’s accountant and that members of her staff are cross-trained so they can handle each other’s responsibilities when someone is out.

“We cross-train every day for each of our positions in case someone falls sick or has a family emergency,” Pauley said. “It is imperative that each one of us within our office understands the role of others in the office so we have backup. No one person should be the only one who knows about the finances.”

Bingman, however, said the city has only provided 30 to 40 percent of information for the audit, and she does not know how the city will complete it without her.

“(The audit) requires 100 percent of my time, and I understand auditing,” Bingman said. “In our office right now we are quite overwhelmed with work, so my absence is something that concerns me. How are we going to get it done? Even if they know what to do, how are they going to get it done?”

Pauley declined to say why she terminated Bingman, citing it as a personnel matter. Bingman said she believes it was motivated.

“Since this whole primary has started, it’s gotten ugly in our office, very ugly. It’s a toxic environment,” Bingman said. “I can’t emphasize how I was on guard all the time.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, City Council President Jeff Worrell instructed his fellow councilors to analyze what they heard at the meetings and make recommendations at a later date about how to proceed. He also thanked Bingman for her service.

“I know that you served the city admirably and served me very well with any question I ever asked of you,” he said. “I believe that you had the best interest of the city in your heart, and I think that’s probably why we worked together so well.”

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