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Berry remains silent

Features Editor

Rumors that swirled around the Pike County Commission after an audit by the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts in April have turned into accusations by two of the county commissioners.

Larry Meeks said on Tuesday that he is calling for an investigation into an "unauthorized and illegal" pay raise that was cited in the audit report for the period of Oct. 1, 2001 through Sept. 30, 2001.

The findings in the audit report indicated that the then-chairman of the commission authorized a pay increase for an employee assigned the duties of a temporarily vacated position, yet the authorization was not in the minutes of the meeting.

On Wednesday, Commissioner Charlie Harris accused the other commissioners of wanting to push the issue under the table and said he has requested that the employee involved in the issue be put on administrative leave.

Harris further stated that he also believes Commissioner Willie Thomas, who authorized the pay increase, should step down form the commission.

However, Commission Chairperson Karen Berry said there has been no attempt by the commission to push the issue under the table.

She said there has been no attempt on the part of the county commission to cover up any of the findings in the audit report.

"We made the audit report public immediately after it was released to us on June 28," Berry said. "There has been no attempt to cover up any issue as alleged by Commissioner Harris."

Berry said, as required by Alabama law, the audit report is turned over to the district attorney’s office to determine if any criminal activity as occurred.

"Until the district attorney informs the county commission of its findings, if any, I will not be a part of any speculation or rumors," Berry said.