Grady County Officials may have been overpaid more than $720,000 over the last decade, according to a new report from the Oklahoma State Auditor's Office.
It was found that between July 2008 and July 2018, Grady County Officials' salaries exceeded the maximum amount allowed by state statute.
The Oklahoma State Auditor's Office conducted a special investigative audit at the request of District Attorney Jason Hicks. The Grady County Excise Board caught the discrepancy while preparing their budget for the upcoming year in 2018.
The Investigative Audit found the overpayment may have come from a pay increase in 2008 that should have been specified for county employees only rather than including elected officials.
"During our review of the July 29, 2008, Excise Board meeting minutes, we noted a discussion between the Excise Board and the budget maker concerning the budget, pay increases, and stipends for county employees.
"The Excise Board suggested a 15% salary increase and a $1,000 stipend for July 2008 and December 2008 to present. The County Clerk stated she would confirm with the State Auditor and Inspector concerning legality of stipends for said employees," the report said.
"At the Excise Board meeting held August 26, 2008, the Grady County Assistant District Attorney stated that after reviewing the statutes and speaking with the State Auditor and Inspector’s Office, safety bonuses and salary increases would only be allowed for employees."
Those who were serving as County Commissioner District 1 and District 3, County Assessor, County Treasurer, County Clerk, County Sheriff and Assistant District attorney—at the time of the Aug. 2008 meeting—were in attendance, according to the state auditor's report.
"Contrary to the advice of the Assistant District Attorney, a salary increase of 18% approved for employees was also given to the county officials. We found no documentation that the BOCC approved the raises for the county officials other than the approval of the budget request for the Estimate of Needs. This budget request did not itemize the salary amount requested for each employee and county official, it only reflected the total amount per budgetary department. According to the payroll clerk, she was instructed by the County Clerk to add the percentage of salary increase approved for employees to all individuals in the payroll software system. In subsequent years, the county officials continued to receive the raises approved by the Excise Board for employees," the report said.
Hicks has transferred the case to the attorney general's office for further review, Jones said. More information to come as the investigation unfolds.