State audit says Langley employee used city credit card for personal use

Lax oversight in Langley City Hall allowed a city employee to misuse credit cards, according to a state audit on the city released this week.

The audit, which covered a review of the city's books for the year 2006, said city officials did not properly safeguard public assets. The report said Rick Hill, Langley's former public works director, used a city credit card for his personal use and racked up $2,408 in charges in December 2006 through July 2007.

The audit said the city was later reimbursed when Langley discovered the charges, and Hill also used the city credit card in November 2007. He was asked to resign that month.

At the time, city officials did not give a reason for Hill's departure. The city hired Challis Stringer as its new public works director in April.

The report also states that Hill used city vehicles and equipment for his own personal use.

Neil Colburn, who was mayor at the time, said he could not talk at length about the audit due to legal concerns.

"I did find inappropriate conduct and I did take action," Colburn said.

Mayor Paul Samuelson could not be reached for comment Friday.

In the audit, the state said the city's credit-card policies were outdated. The most recent policy allowed six employees access to two credit cards, but three of those who were authorized to have cards no longer work for the city.

The state auditor also criticized the city for allowing employees to take vehicles home, and said Langley had not set up a policy that would allow it, and also did not monitor the proper use of city vehicles.

Langley was also faulted for lacking a system to track its assets.

"The city does not have an inventory system and cannot determine if all assets are accounted for," the report states. "This allowed the public works director to take equipment, such as vehicles and tools, home for personnel use. The city did not discover equipment was missing until other public works employees looked for it."

In its response to the state audit, city officials admitted that proper safeguards were lacking. Langley noted it had adopted new policies for the use of credit cards and city vehicles.

"The city is confident that our new policies will protect our public resources and we are diligently monitoring compliance with those policies," the city said in its response to the audit.

The report, dated Feb. 15, was released on Nov. 24.

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