Investigations continue in Kennett

Thursday will mark three months since the discovery of suspicious transactions in Kennett Township’s financial accounts.

And in those three months, the supervisors — aided by the interim township manager and the Meyner Center at Lafayette College — continue to take steps to secure township finances, review policies and procedures, and hire a full-time township manager.

Kennett TownshipThe investigations by the Chester County District Attorney’s office and a forensic accounting firm into the suspicious transactions have reached the interview stage, with all three supervisors having been interviewed in late June.

“As you would expect, the investigators are being thorough, objective and professional,” Supervisors’ Chairman Scudder Stevens said at the supervisors’ July 17 meeting, reporting that he, Vice-Chairman Richard Leff and Supervisor Whitney Hoffman had been interviewed as part of the investigation.

Stevens and Leff were interviewed on June 25, and Hoffman was interviewed two days later.

“I regret that I cannot provide any more details than that,” Stevens told the crowd. “I also cannot speculate or discuss who else is being interviewed, the subjects covered, or how long the interview phase may take.”

Leff reported the township finances as secure, adding that there were no “big changes” since June.

“We have $3 million in the bank, and an investment account of just over $6 million,” Leff said. “Our line of credit has a balance of about a little over $3 million, which is about the same as the prior month.”

Interim Manager Alison Rudolf reported that she is almost finished interviewing township employees and evaluating personnel policies and procedures.

“I’m starting work on comparison studies of other comparable communities to develop some best practices,” she said at the meeting. “I’m looking at that with an eye to eventually submit recommendations to the board to consider.”

Stevens, in a statement at the beginning of the meeting, said Rudolf is looking at how Kennett can best operate “in areas such as cost, efficiency and effectiveness.”

“Two of the areas currently under review are our operations – to make sure all of us are optimizing our time and resources in the best manner, and our finances.”

While all that is going on, the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government at Lafayette College is assisting the township in replacing former manager Lisa Moore, who was dismissed May 17 after being placed on paid administrative leave when the supervisors were notified of suspicious transactions in their bank accounts.

Thirty-three people had applied for the position, and interviews will start with nine of those people, according to Stevens.

Some of the other actions the supervisors have taken in the last three months include:

  • Appointing Supervisor Whitney Hoffman as Kennett Township’s secretary and treasurer, positions formerly held by Moore;
  • Switching the township’s financial accounts to Fulton Bank;
  • Regularly providing updates at the beginning of each supervisors’ meeting, and posting updates on the township website;
  • Appointing the three supervisors the only authorized signers on all township bank accounts;
  • Taking an active, day-to-day role in township operations;
  • Hiring the Kennett Township-based accounting firm of Umbreit, Wileczek & Associates to handle payroll and provide financial management services;
  • Hiring Carl Francis of Malvern-based EnvisianStrategic for strategic communication services;
  • Hiring the forensic accounting firm of Marcum LLP; and
  • Hiring Rudolf as the interim manager on May 28.

The next supervisors’ meeting will be Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m.

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About Monica Fragale

Monica Thompson Fragale is a freelance reporter who spent her life dreaming of being in the newspaper business. That dream came true after college when she started working at The Kennett Paper and, years later The Reporter newspaper in Lansdale and other dailies. She turned to non-profit work after her first daughter was born and spent the next 13 years in that field. But while you can take the girl out of journalism, you can’t take journalism out of the girl. Offers to freelance sparked the writing bug again started her fingers happily tapping away on the keyboard. Monica lives with her husband and two children in Kennett Square.

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