Bland Park Board president addresses aldermen about missing receipts

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 12/31/19

Bland Park Board President Lee Nielsen told the Bland Board of Aldermen Dec. 10 that they may need some new park board members because at least one quit after hearing about the board discussion at …

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Bland Park Board president addresses aldermen about missing receipts

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Bland Park Board President Lee Nielsen told the Bland Board of Aldermen Dec. 10 that they may need some new park board members because at least one quit after hearing about the board discussion at the November meeting.

Aldermen froze the park’s bank account after they were unable to acquire receipts for more than $3,000 during the last meeting, and speculated where the funds were going. Mayor Lee Medlock offered Nielsen a letter from the city’s attorney to further explain what the board needed in order to move forward.

“If you have any questions or anything, we can talk about it now or later,” Medlock said.

Nielsen explained the way they write checks and pay bills.

“The ones for cash, everyone on the park board doesn’t have the financial ability to go out and purchase something and wait to get reimbursed until the next month,” Nielsen said. “So we approve an amount to be spent, we print you a check to be spent, you go, come back with the merchandise and receipt.”

Alderman Diana Mayfield argued that the largest check, written for cash with a note to labor didn’t have a receipt.

“The largest one for $2,880 doesn’t have a receipt,” she said. “It’s just a voucher and something that says “cash” and ‘for labor.’”

Nielsen said that was for labor.

“I will write you a receipt right now,” he said.

Mayfield argued that the checks cannot be written to Nielsen as he is president.

“Well, here is how that all transpired,,” he began. “We never received information on how the park board is supposed to act or pay bills. We couldn’t get bylaws, rules or ordinances. Then we were told at a meeting that the park board has full control over all monies and finances on the park board.”

Nielsen said when they erected the fence at the park, they had $5,000, but when they contacted companies, they received one bid for $9,700. So Nielsen said he bid the fence for $4,500.

“Which was under budget, and everyone in town agrees that the fence looks fine,” Nielsen said. “Everything was above board as far as we knew. I don’t get to vote as president. It was the board that voted to accept my offer.”

He said he saved everyone money and the park has a beautiful fence to use as a barricade and keep the children safe, so he doesn’t see a problem with that.

“It was either that, or there wasn’t going to be one,” he said.

Alderman Sherry Spradling asked who the $2,880 went to and Nielsen said it went to him and his two helpers, and the rest went to equipment.

“Bring in all the rental receipts and show that you paid that out,” Mayfield said.

Nielsen said the rental receipts were with the other receipts from Pioneer because they paid the project in full. Medlock said if the park board has a legal question, they can call the Missouri Municipal League.

“We didn’t know we had a problem,”said Nielsen. “If you want to talk about handling money, how about people who decide to hold up funds of taxpayers money that are designated for a certain thing and a certain thing only without the approval of the city council.”

Mayfield said it was approved.

“Before the city council voted, you had already held back money, Diana,” Nielsen countered. “I didn’t hold it back because I hadn’t had time to process it.”

Nielsen asked why the park board wasn’t receiving their bills on time.

“If we don’t get the bill, we can’t pay the bill,” Nielsen said. “Ally (Nielsen) made four trips up here to get the mail.”

Spradling argued that she was there when Ally Nielsen was in and gave her the mail they had at the time.

“If you want my resignation, that’s fine, I’ll resign,” he said. “You try to do something for the city and everybody sitting here knows that nothin’ wrong was done.”

Medlock said the park looks nice, and if he was on the park board, maybe he wouldn’t have any idea either.

“But there are certain questions that have to be answered,” Medlock said. “There is more of a lack of communication and it started back before I came on and back with our old clerk.”

Spradling offered a copy of city ordinances on the park board to Nielsen, but he said he didn’t need it now as the city was asking him to resign.

“That was if he couldn’t explain,” Spradling said.

Nielsen said now that he looks at it, it was probably a foolish decision to move forward with it without checking, but Spradling said to putting aside the $2,800, communication is the most important.

“We we ask for certain things and don’t get it, people assume certain stuff and it is all we can do,” Medlock said.

Spradling asked out of the $2,800, how much went in Nielsen’s pocket personally and he said probably about $1,500.

“See, city volunteers can’t get paid,” Spradling said.

Mayfield also said board minutes were supposed to be turned in after every meeting, and Nielsen said they were.

“I believe you have everything the park board had from 2019,” Nielsen argued. “He said he has spoken to the treasurer about things being turned in a timely manner.”

Clerk Carrie Krupp said she didn’t think there were any minutes in the book.

Nielsen told the board he would be happy to continue on and serve the park board. Medlock said it is hard to get people to volunteer. He wanted to give the board time to get everything in order.

“If Lee (Nielsen) can get his things together in a timely fashion, I like the work that is being done,” Spradling said.

Mayfield added that things need to be in by the end of the month to balance the checking account.

“The park is getting their money through a special tax,” she said. “If it’s being abused, taxpayers won’t renew that.”

The board also agreed to keep the park board’s mail in a certain place for them, Spradling will bring in copies of the park by-laws, and the park board will bring in missing monthly minutes.

“I don’t have a problem if you can get the stuff that we asked for on that letter, if you and whoever else wants to stay on the park board, but as of now, we have the check book and will take care of that until we get someone trained to do it,” Medlock said.

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