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Dewey to release report on procurement practices

Investigation spurred by police department’s military surplus slush fund
March 9, 2018

Story Location:
Dagsworthy Ave
Dewey Beacg  Delaware  19958
United States

For the second time in seven months, a much-anticipated, town-funded report looking into employee practices in Dewey is scheduled to be released.

The first, in September, was a 112-page investigation into Dewey employee allegations against Town Manager Marc Appelbaum charging he had created a corrosive work environment during his 5-year tenure.

The second, expected to be released during a town council meeting Saturday, March 10, is an agreed upon procedures report from an independent auditor who is looking into the procurement practices of all town departments. The second report, prepared by the Salisbury-based TGM Group, was spurred by revelations in the first report that the police department was using revenue generated from the sale federal military surplus program as a slush fund.

The TGM report is scheduled to make two appearances this weekend. First during an audit committee meeting Friday, March 9. This meeting begins with an executive session to discuss the report. It’s expected the committee will approve the report and then send it to town council, which has scheduled a discussion on the report for its monthly meeting.

Mayor TJ Redefer said March 8 the report will be releases as soon as it’s approved by town council, which he said he hopes is Saturday.

“That said, the audit committee and the commissioners will need to review and consider making additional comments and or recommendations,” he said. “I have seen a draft of the report and it is enlightening. I would’ve preferred a more complete audit rather than an investigate report, but I think this is a good step forward.” 

State Auditor Tom Wagner is scheduled to make an appearance at the council meeting. He said March 7 the town asked him to be present as a way to show town officials are actively pursuing answers to questions in the right way.

“They’re looking for assurances,” Wagner said.

Wagner said internal control problems are not unusual in towns this size because they can’t always afford to have specialized departments. He said outsourcing accounting duties is something a town Dewey’s size can consider or co-operating with other small municipalities to leverage resources.

“At the end of the day, it’s about fixing the problem and move forward,” Wagner said.

The town has already followed one suggestion. During a special council meeting in February, town council members agreed to hire Milford-based Luff & Associates to take over the financial director, who resigned a couple of months ago, through the end of the fiscal year, March 31.

Adding to the intrigue of the report’s release was audit committee Chair Larry Silver’s resignation and then withdrawal of resignation in the days before the report was scheduled to be released.

Silver informed Mayor TJ Redefer and other commissioners that he was stepping down from the committee March 5.

In an email March 6, Silver said his resignation had “absolutely nothing to do with content of the draft report by TGM that is to be reviewed and possibly voted on by the committee this Friday.

He also said it had nothing to do with how it is being unveiled.

“The report should be reviewed in draft form in an executive session so that the committee can discuss the report with TGM in the proper forum,” he said.

One day later, March 7, Silver informed Redefer and Cooke that he was withdrawing his resignation.

Silver said said he will formally step down after the audited financial statements for the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, are presented to the commissioners in August.

“That was my original plan,” he said.