Hawkins school official fired after missed IRS payments lead to fines

Jeff Bobo • Jun 18, 2013 at 4:12 PM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Schools Finance Director Myron Dale was fired Monday, leaving behind $166,000 in federal fines and a proposed 2013-14 budget that the Board of Education wasn’t prepared to “trust” Monday night.

The BOE had scheduled a special called meeting Monday for the purpose of approving a balanced 2013-14 budget.

That proposed budget was drafted with Dale as its chief architect.

But in light of Dale’s recent costly miscues, BOE Chairman Randy Collier said the board has “trust issues” with the figures they have been presented.

The board, as well as central office staff, will spend the next 10 days studying the proposed budget and return June 27 to consider final approval.

Director of Schools Charlotte Britton told the Times-News that a paid consultant has also been called in to assist with the budget process.

Among the miscues attributed to Dale was his failure in November to make a $629,000 payment to the Internal Revenue Service for school employee federal withholdings.

It was recently discovered that Dale also failed to make the IRS payment again this past March.

Overall, Hawkins County Schools have been assessed $166,000 in IRS fines due to those two missed payments, although those fines are under appeal.

“There were some trust issues that came up, and the board feels like we need more time to evaluate the budget line by line to make sure that what’s in the budget is (accurate),” Collier said after Monday’s meeting. “Myron is a great guy and did a wonderful job, but this board has policies that have to be followed. There were some policy issues that weren’t followed.”

Britton told the Times-News after Monday’s meeting she’s not aware of any mistakes in the proposed 2013-14 budget. She said she will also be presenting the budget to the County Commission’s Budget Committee after it is approved.

“I felt that I needed to review it and find out everything that was in the budget,” she added.

Britton told the BOE during Monday’s meeting, “It has always been the goal of mine as director of schools and the goal of the Hawkins County Board of Education to conduct all business in a transparent manner. I feel that the school board should study and review the proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year and the proposed salary scales for accuracy.”

The November missed IRS payment wasn’t discovered until April during a budget review.

At that time it was discovered that an IRS federal employee withholdings payment in the amount of $629,000 hadn’t been transferred and was still in a county schools account.

As a result of that missed payment, the IRS fined Hawkins County Schools $133,000. Britton said that fine was appealed, the appeal was denied, and now it is under appeal again.

In March, Dale failed to make another IRS employee federal withholding payment, which has resulted in another $33,000 IRS fine for the county school system.

Britton said that fine is under appeal as well.

Britton said there was no intentional wrongdoing on Dale’s part. She said it was just an “unfortunate mistake.”

At last count, the BOE was looking to use nearly $2 million in savings to balance the $54.3 million proposed 2013-14 school budget. That would reduce the school system’s projected $9 million in savings to $7 million as of the end of the next fiscal year.

School systems are required by the state to maintain a reserve fund of no less than 3 percent of the overall budget, which in the case of Hawkins County is $1.6 million.

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