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MARCO ISLAND — He’s baaack. The citizens’ forensic audit committee, including Chairwoman Terri DiSciullo, has expressed concern that former Finance Director Bill Harrison is returning to City Hall during the forensic audit of the project he helped manage financially.
The city announced the retirement of then-Finance Director Bill Harrison in October 2008 following the release of information about financial practice concerns in Dana Souza’s “transition report.”
Souza, now resigned, served as the longtime city parks and recreation director and as interim city manager for about six weeks in the spring of 2008.
Souza wrote in the May 2008 transition report that he had questions about the city’s financial practices and outlined the reasons for his concerns for then-incoming City Manager Steve Thompson.
Shortly after the report went public in October 2008, Harrison left the city.
Bob Creighton, city purchasing manager, was then named the interim finance director by Thompson.
Since that time, Harrison has been working as a liaison to the financial planning committee with City Councilman Bill Trotter.
Creighton informed the Eagle in early February that Harrison was working as a consultant for the city.
At an audit meeting Friday, committee members expressed concern about Harrison’s new contract with the city given the need to for the public to have faith in the outcome of the upcoming forensic audit of the Collier Boulevard reconstruction project.
Harrison is making $100 per hour as a consultant, DiSciullo said.
Creighton said Harrison works in the finance department Mondays and Tuesdays.
DiSciullo said she wouldn’t mind if Harrison offered services on the STRP financing or other specific projects, but planned to urge Thompson that Harrison not be in charge of the finance department again.
Harrison wrote in an October 2008 memo to Thompson that his retirement was actually a “constructive discharge.”
Harrison was paid severance, retirement earnings and now is earning consulting fees.
Thompson has said the finance department is extremely understaffed and needs Harrison’s assistance. Thompson has also said that he is actively seeking a permanent finance director but the “political atmosphere” has made it challenging.
“I find that surprising in today’s economy,” DiSciullo said.
Bill McMullan said Harrison was making about $85 per hour before Harrison “retired” or was constructively discharged. McMullan expressed concern that Harrison has earned more because of the departure from the city.
Thompson did not get back to the Eagle to confirm specific details of Creighton’s and Harrison’s agreements with the city as of presstime Tuesday.
“Harrison should not be supervising the finance department at this time,” said Larry Magel of the audit committee.
Joe Batte agreed.
“It gives an image of non-transparency for him to have access to financial records before or during the audit,” Batte said.