Kiawah officials mum on early audit results

Charles Lipuma

Kiawah Town Council met Monday to hear a preliminary report from the town’s forensic accountant, but officials had little light to shed on its findings.

Town Council’s meeting was scheduled to take place behind closed doors, and Mayor Charles Lipuma confirmed the accountant’s report.

“Given the investigation is incomplete and additional work is needed, we have nothing to report at this time,” he said in an email.

The accounting firm was hired earlier this month to investigate alleged improper financial transactions by one or more employees. At the time, the town vowed to “take appropriate action” if any improper actions are found.

Both Town Treasurer Kenneth Gunnells and Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker recently resigned. Rucker told The Post and Courier on May 7 that she was resigning effective June 30, but Town Attorney Dennis Rhoad later said that Rucker has been suspended with pay while the town conducts a forensic audit.

Rucker’s attorney, Lauren Williams, said they are eagerly awaiting the audit’s results and that Rucker “maintains that she served the Town with honor and dignity.”

Meanwhile, the town also was scheduled to receive legal advice Monday regarding a lawsuit that claims the town illegally authorized almost $100,000 for consultants and for a down payment to buy land for a new town hall. Kiawah resident Dennis McGill, who filed the suit last month, said the spending of town money should have been approved in a public Town Council vote and has criticized council for its “culture of secrecy.” The town has not filed its answer so far.

In November, council members voted 3-2 to spend $2 million for a 21.5-acre site on Betsy Kerrison Parkway. The $10 million Town Hall project is scheduled for completion in late 2016.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.