Were $250,000 in City Funds Really Forgotten?

JONESBORO (KAIT)- It all spawned from a headline in the local paper, reading "More than $250k found in accounts City had forgotten."

However, Jonesboro leaders are saying that is innacurate and the whereabouts of the money has been known all along.

"The money has always been there. Obviously we are still getting monthly statements on the accounts. We always knew they were there, it's just that the accounts aren't being used anymore. They are somewhat dormant," said Mayor Doug Formon.

There are three accounts in question ranging from employee benefits to transportation funds.

City Finance Director Jim Barksdale says, it's not uncommon for accounts of this nature to sit in a bank untouched.

"You are going to have that. You may have specific project and your going to set money aside. There may be a period of activity, and you don't stop and take the money out. Especially if you are getting a good rate on it, you leave it there, and as the project completes and you get done with it, then you close the accounts out," said Barksdale.

However, the accounts were just brought up at the city's depository board meeting, a group formed in December.

According to Arkansas state law - "the mayor, city clerk or recorder, and city collector shall constitute a board to designate depoitories and supervise the depositing of municipal funds."

So why did the City of Jonesboro just now form this board?

"It's one of those laws that's on the books that nobody really knew existed. When we got ready to form our depository board and we called around to see how other cities functioned theirs and how often they met, they didn't know what it was either," said Formon.

Combine this with financial software problems and an audit the City has had under Forman, and some are asking if he is qualified to be Craighead County Tax Collector, a position he's currently running for.

"I'm definitely qualified for it, there's no doubt about it," said Formon.

The money in the employee flexible benefit account is going to likely be used for a company Christmas party for city employees.

Meanwhile, the other projects still remain open and the use of that money is pending.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.