Burke Offers Immediate Resignation Amid Finance Department Confusion – www.elizabethton.com

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BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
As the August regular meeting of the Carter County Commission opened its session, many knew what weighed heavily on the minds of everyone present and whether the Commission could come to a resolution regarding the local animal shelter and its funding.
However, the issue of animal control has taken a back seat after Brad Burke’s sudden resignation as CFO and his job status with regards to closing the books and training new staff.
One of the main concerns was Burke’s ability since Carolyn Watson had been hired to replace him.
During the Financial Management Committee’s report to the Commission, President Ginger Holdren explained to the Commission that “Mr Burke had resigned but also asked the committee to stay. The finance committee took his request into consideration and with other elected officials in the room, the committee voted to accept his resignation and moved forward.
“We told Mr. Burke that we expected him to train the new person, but he hasn’t trained anyone in that department. So there is no one really ready to intervene. However, these ladies (new CFO Carolyn Watson and Deputy Director Audra Gerty) are ready to step in, ”Holdren said.
Holdren further explained that no recording or computer had been shared with anyone by Burke. When asked if their books had been closed for the previous year 2020-2021, some said “no” while others said they did not know.
“People have questions that weren’t answered,” Holdren added. “There are reasons to be afraid and I don’t know the answer.”
The Chairperson asked the Commission to be patient as Watson and Gerty progress through the learning process and encouraged the Commissioners not to blame them as mistakes will be made and there will be a lot of mistakes. ” I do not know “.
“Carolyn will hopefully have one, two or three trained to take on her job when she retires,” Holdren commented.
There has been a lot of talk among the Commissioners about how to handle the issue with questions regarding everything from a recent issue with employee paychecks to whether Burke should be considered a contract employee. .
County District Attorney Josh Hardin added that there had been nothing illegal or inappropriate to his knowledge, although there are concerns about it.
Commissioner Brad Johnson shared his thoughts, saying: “We operate a multi-million dollar business and we have just gone through a budgeting process. We have a new director and as a committee we asked him if he could train. We end a year and start a new year.
“I walked through the office and found my CFO filing documents and he says I think we can do it and arrogantly refused to hand anything to the director or deputy director. You have the best talent here ready to work and I guarantee you that by the end of the month he won’t be finished, ”Johnson said of Burke’s books closing.
Attorney Hardin said something needs to be decided on Monday night and that the financial management committee is responsible for hiring and firing the CFO and anyone in that office.
Due to time constraints to be able to move forward without the committee meeting, Commissioner Austin Jaynes brought forward a motion to suspend the rules which was approved. The meeting was suspended at that time.
Dr. Tracy McAbee was not present and was called to be briefed on the situation and also arrived to participate in the meeting.
During the meeting, Burke, apparently watching via a Facebook feed, emailed Commission Chairman Travis Hill to tell him he was resigning with the email arriving at 10:45 p.m.
Jaynes made the motion to accept the resignation, which was seconded by Roger Colbaugh. The vote was unanimous to accept Burke’s resignation.
Jaynes demanded that Burke be restricted to information technology and that his keys and all equipment be returned. The committee voted to have his equipment and keys returned by Friday, September 3, 2021 at 9 a.m., as Burke is reportedly on COVID protocol due to exposure.
Mayor Patty Woodby informed the Commission that all information technology had been shut down.
Watson said all resources will be mobilized to close the books for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The Commission asked someone to check and see if there could be a request for an extension with the problems facing the Ministry of Finance.
Other mayors have offered to help Watson with training as well as other CFOs.
Ahead of the Commission meeting, local resident Roy Livingston spoke about all the time allotted to him during public comments on concerns that more detailed details were needed on what was going on at the Finance Office, saying the commissioners were employed by taxpayers to look after their finances. .

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