This is the final portion of the interview from the former HR -Payroll manager of the PSA. To read the first interview, click HERE.–
Former PSA employee, Dawn Edmonds, speaks out and revealed documents to AllOnGeorgia-Camden about the financial mismanagement and the working environment within the PSA. Edmonds was a 24.5-year employee with the PSA and served as the HR and Payroll manager toward the end of her career before being laid off in January 2018 after the IRS investigated former executive director and other employees about unpaid payroll back taxes.
Edmonds continues to tell her story about the gross mismanagement of the PSA and the lack of oversight from the PSA Board.
Current PSA Situation: Until recently, the PSA Board has not completed financial audits since 2004. The PSA Board members, based on the articles of incorporation, are made up of the three city mayors of Kingsland, St. Marys, and Woodbine, along with two county commissioners. The former executive director, William Brunson was fired this past spring, along with the assistant director Shawnta Jenkins. Brunson was then charged with two counts of wire fraud for purchasing two vehicles totaling $38,500. Additionally, Brunson failed to make payroll tax payments and late fees of about $1.5 million. Payroll taxes have been renegotiated with the IRS by the county to $500,000. Since being made aware of the financial mismanagement, the PSA Board requested an audit which is now complete – the D.A.’s office has not released the audit. The financial mismanagement is still under criminal investigation. The PSA is under new executive leadership and the current PSA Board remains in place.
Departmental Budgets –
As manager of payroll and HR, Edmonds said she never submitted a budget and neither did the other department heads as far as she knows. She said department heads were asked to submit a “wish list” to Brunson and he would specifically handle HR/payroll budgets.
Under the new leadership of Joey Cason, the PSA has now submitted a budget and new training is in place to help train department heads on budgets and their responsibilities.
Extra Checks to Employees –
“[Brunson] never allowed us to make overtime. They were required to accept compensation time instead, but yet he would pay certain employees to do other outside projects like cleaning the football stadium or as the check register said, ‘outside maintenance.’ These checks were not issued out of the payroll account, William paid them out of the general fund account,” said Edmonds.
After reviewing the extra checks in the check register, Edmonds figured those were extra jobs Brunson hired out to current employees after hours.
“In my opinion, he operated the PSA as if it was his own personal business and ran it the way he wanted to,” said Edmonds.
Below is just a portion of over 300 pages of check registers that have been correlated with multiple pages of the official Chart of Accounts from the Public Service Authority. The copy of the check registers shows extra pay given to salaried employees for extra work. Also, the register shows that the employees received holiday bonuses captioned with the note “Happy Holidays.” All of these checks were paid out of the PSA’s general fund, not payroll.Portions PSA Check Reg
Things just did not to make sense toward end of time –
Toward the end of her time at PSA, Edmonds said it was so miserable that she just did her job and went home. Things began to get worse after Brunson, Jenkins, and Edmonds were interviewed by the IRS in 2017.
“You never knew who he would scream and holler at,” said Edmonds. “The last time I remember was when he was pissed off and came in from outside; he was threatening to fire and clean house. He even said I am about to clean house and fire payroll too. This was after the IRS had caught him in 2017 and after I talked with them as well.”
Last week, AllOnGeorgia-Camden reported that SPLOST dollars were commingled and not used properly and confirmed against the chart of accounts, a PSA Board member was unknowingly being paid out of the SPLOST account for business transactions with the PSA. Other money from the SPLOST account also shows that one employee received an $822 per quarter car allowance. (Link to the previous article on SPLOST).
“When I saw the SPLOST issue, that just blew my mind. I knew SPLOST money was only supposed to be used for approved projects by the PSA Board,” said Edmonds. “Nobody knew, not even the PSA Board, as far as I know, that he was using the SPLOST money this way.”
Handling of Job announcements and hiring –
Edmonds said that while she was over payroll and HR, job announcements would be posted regularly and appropriately – then Brunson did not stay consistent with that policy. Over time it became a habit that Brunson would bring in an employee and instructed Edmonds to give them a hiring package – jobs were offered on a whim.
“If there was someone he wanted to hire, he would have me give them the paper work and go; no advertisement anywhere,” said Edmonds. “That was another example of his micromanagement and mismanagement. This went on for years.”
Edmonds said that the only jobs she would be allowed to post correctly were camp counselors and lifeguards – everyone else was petty much word of mouth.
In an appropriate board procedure process on hiring, the director brings names forward to the Board. Edmonds, being the HR person, was asked if she was ever required to generate a list of recommended hires to the Board or to Brunson, she said no.
“I do not ever remember that happening,” answered Edmonds. “I had no clue if the PSA Board knew who was being hired and who wasn’t. That wasn’t William’s policy as far as I knew. Why didn’t the Board ever question it?”
In addition to HR hiring, raises were not brought before the PSA Board for approval as well as job title changes. However, with new leadership that PSA this process changed at a September 2018 meeting where employees’ positions were redefined, and salaries were adjusted to match job qualifications under the guise of executive session.
No audits –
Since 2004, the PSA did not perform an audit. Edmonds said she was told by Brunson that they were no longer using the accounting firm once used to perform past audits.
“William told me that our audits will now be combined with the county auditors,” said Edmonds.
According to our sources at AllOnGeorgia, this change in audit providers was not completed.
Walmart/Sam’s charge account canceled –
The Walmart and Sam’s credit cards were canceled years ago for nonpayment/late payments as reported to Edmonds from the accounts payable department within PSA.
Purchases were made with blank checks signed by William Brunson and with Mayor Smith’s signature stamped.
Mileage Reimbursement –
According to documents printed from the PSA’s QuickBooks software, and confirmed by the check registers and the chart of accounts, Brunson received over $80,000 in mileage reimbursement from documents obtained and cross-referenced against the PSA’s Chart of Accounts for those years only. Below is a breakdown.
Throughout the check registers from 2015-2017, Brunson received multiple reimbursements for other expenses; however, it is not clear how or what the reimbursements were for as the PSA had limited policies governing mileage.
Below is the entire copy of one year’s reimbursements Brunson received. Brunson received over $23,000 in mileage in Fiscal Year 2016. In other documents fragmented in subsequent years, that are not published, it shows that Brunson received even more mileage reimbursements totaling over $20,000.
Due to the voluminous nature of the documents, they were not all able to be published. One of the documents below shows an entire total check reimbursement manifest to Brunson totaling over $300,000 from 2005 to 2012 – all of this reimbursement was from the general fund, according to the chart of accounts. It cannot be determined what those reimbursements were for at this time.
The following is a breakdown of the mileage reimbursements obtained from the documents for William Brunson which totals over $ 80,400.
Jan 1, 2011 – Dec 31, 2011 – $24,517.81
Jan 1, 2012 – Mar 28, 2012 – $6,215,57
July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 – $23,802.44
July 1 2016-June 30, 2017 – $23, 522.73
July 1, 2017 – Jan. 2018 – $2,408.87
(Total for just FY 2016)Brunson doc 1 2005 -2017
(Complete reimbursement manifest for Brunson 2005-2012 only)Brunson doc 2 2012 2017
(Complete reimbursement manifest for Brunson 2012 – 2017 only)
Edmonds laid off and GBI Investigates –
After the county assumed services for HR and payroll, Edmonds’ position was null and void. She was given the responsibility to continue working with accounts receivables and other jobs she could find to do, such as the front desk or wherever she was needed to keep working.
In 2015, Edmonds’ pay was increased by $20,000, making her salary $79,700, along with the assistant director Shawnta Jenkins’ raise bringing his total to $80,000. Edmonds questioned the raise, but Brunson justified it saying it was competitive with the market and the PSA taking on more services like roadside mowing and facility maintenance which increased Edmonds’ workload. However, Brunson never justified or approved these new raises and job descriptions with the PSA Board.
The raises were awarded to Edmonds and Jenkins in 2015, the GBI was asked to investigate the financial mismanagement from Brunson in the Spring of 2018. The GBI interviewed everyone and Edmonds said that the GBI questioned her “substantial raise.” Edmonds explained that she received the raise at Brunson’s request and justification.
Edmonds said she was awaiting further instruction about Brunson issuing her a new job description; however, she feels that this was an attempt to keep her quiet in retrospect but maintains the IRS matter caused her to be laid off.
Edmonds was informed by Katie Howard, the County HR Director, that she was terminated in a meeting with her and William Brunson without offering her another position for lesser pay.
“She told me I could apply for other jobs that might come open that I may qualify for,” said Edmonds. “I told Katie that William said there was work he had for me to do, and that he was liar. I was a dedicated employee for 29.5 years and I feel like I deserve to be treated better.”
Edmonds stated that she felt all along that she was removed because she spoke to the IRS about Brunson’s mismanagement.
“William apparently thought he could buy me, but he learned that wasn’t true. And it cost me my job when I talked to the IRS,” said Edmonds.
Edmonds feels that the PSA Board should have known what was going on, and certain policy and procedures should have been followed such as monitoring hiring approvals, raises, and financial audits as they did within their respective county and cities.
Below is the entire past chart of accounts for the PSA for your reference –Chart of Accounts PSA PAST
Related article – Part 1 Interview –