As profiled in an article in today’s Post-Record, for the second time this year Washougal earned State audit results that were clean, and included no findings. This is very good news in the wake of a report issued in October 2009 that stated approximately $100,000 in city revenues were missing, a revelation that was followed by then-Mayor Stacee Sellers’ abrupt resignation.
City leaders and city staff have undoubtedly worked hard during the past two years to re-build Washougal’s image, and put new policies and procedures in place to ensure that this kind of situation is not repeated.
Having said that, however, let’s not forget there’s still the lingering issue of $100,000 of taxpayer money that has essentially disappeared. Citing an inability to get into contact with the players involved — namely Sellers who left town almost immediately and former finance director Jeffrey Bivens who now awaits sentencing on other unrelated criminal charges — an investigation by the State Auditor’s Office didn’t turn up much in the way of answers. Then there is the continuing investigation being handled by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, which has refused to comment or give any kind of time frame as to when the case will be resolved.
Maybe even more unsettling are comments from some current city council members that show little concern about finding an ultimate resolution to the matter.
This approach to the situation is unsettling, primarily because the incident was much more than just a matter of a couple of bad decisions made by Sellers. It was a true breakdown in this city’s government structure.
The city should look forward, but even two years later this important issue should not be brushed aside, swept under the rug and forgotten. The tax-paying citizens of Washougal want and deserve an answer to what happened to their money. And the current elected city leaders are the ones who should be stepping up and demanding it.