Boyle County Treasurer fired for incompetency, neglect of duty

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

The treasurer for the Boyle County government, Darlene Lanham, was fired as of May 1. 

The Fiscal Court appointed Shannon Greene as acting treasurer to take over treasurer duties while the court searches for a new treasurer.

Lanham was appointed treasurer in October 2021. During a special called Fiscal Court meeting on May 1, the Fiscal Court voted 5-0 to terminate Lanham after discussing the matter in executive session. The meeting happened just after auditors gave Judge Executive Trille Bottom new information on April 30. 

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Kentucky Revised Statute 68.010 states, “The fiscal court may remove the county treasurer or acting county treasurer at any time for neglect of duty, incompetency or dishonesty.”

Reasons for termination

The letter of termination addressed to Lanham from the county attorney states that the reasons for her termination include neglect of duty and incompetency. It mentions three main grounds for termination. 

One of them is that auditors attempted to audit Lanham’s work around April 28, and they determined that a proper audit could not happen due to many errors and mistakes in reporting. One error is that the 2023 4th quarter settlement, prepared by Lanham, was off balance by over $7 million dollars. 

The next reason is that as of May 1, the annual county treasurer’s settlement for Fiscal Year 2022-23 was nine months delinquent. 

Another reason is that Lanham had been placed on six months probation on March 26, 2024 after an annual review by the Fiscal Court. That review determined that Lanham’s job performance was below expectations in all areas. 

Lanham was evaluated on four areas: quality of work, initiative, productivity and customer focus. 

Under quality of work, she scored a 2 out of 5. Evaluators determined that Lanham deflected responsibility, there were errors in her work, a lack of focus on the responsibility of work, and that she made mistakes often. 

She scored a 2.75 out of 5 on initiative; comments include that she set up interest-bearing accounts and worked to move financial systems to the new Springbrook system. Lanham scored a 2 on customer service, as there were delays in providing accurate reports and information and unacceptable comments about a key staff member.

She also received a score of 2 out of 5 on productivity. Evaluators determined that Lanham put off work, resulting in errors, and she needed to catch up in accounting deadlines with the state. 

The letter states that the above performance and productivity issues continued to occur through May 1. 

Staff feedback

In a letter to the Boyle County Human Resources Director Steve Griffin, dated February 21, 2024, an employee compiled feedback from other employees on working with Lanham. The letter states that staff members were uncomfortable submitting individual feedback because their names would be listed on the reports. Therefore, the comments from employees were compiled into one document and their names are not listed.

The employee who compiled feedback stated in the letter that employees under Lanham worked well together, except with Lanham. “The seven of us, including Shannon, work seamlessly together.  We help each other, share ideas, problems and are always willing to step in and step up if someone needs something.  It’s a collaborative, supportive and friendly atmosphere, with one exception, the 8th member of the team, Darlene.”

The letter contains comments from six unnamed employees. Employee 1 stated that Lanham was helpful in answering questions, but seemed to have a problem with procrastination, which led to things getting done hurriedly and at the last minute.

Employee 2 stated, “Darlene is supposed to take the deposit to the bank, per auditor’s report to ensure segregation of duties. Early in her tenure, she was overwhelmed, and the deposit was forgotten in the desk drawer a couple of times, which threw off the reports in the Tax Admin office. The tax staff discussed this with management and decided it was best, at that time, to take the deposits to the bank and revisit this with Darlene once she was more comfortable in the position.  She would still sign off on the daily paperwork.  We still take the deposit to the bank daily, which is against protocol.”

Employee 3 also mentioned the deposits, saying that Lanham never discussed taking deposits again after tax staff started taking them to the bank. The employee said they were fearful that tax staff will get marked down on an audit for not having the treasurer take deposits.  

Employee 4 stated that “Darlene is great as a person; 0 as an employee. Many decisions that Darlene makes are not appropriate and will most likely end up in the auditor’s report.  For example, backdating PO’s, which throws off the encumbrance reports. When an expense line is over budget, she moves money into that line instead of honoring the budget. If employees over spend, she just moves money with no repercussions. [Judge Executive Trille Bottom] should be approving these items.”

That employee stated Lanham gave work that was part of treasurer duties to office staff, without Bottom’s approval.

Employee 4 also stated that Lanham had an ongoing lack of time management or planning, and couldn’t take responsibility for mistakes.

“I’ve seen her sleep on the floor for 2 to 3 hours,” Employee 4 stated. “She has been known to crawl under her desk and just sit there.” 

The employee stated that Lanham purposefully left the County Administrator [Julie Wagner] out of financial information and discussions; and that they even heard threats of violence toward the county administrator, which was reported to the judge executive.

In a March 12 evaluation meeting by the Fiscal Court, magistrates, and the judge-executive questioned Lanham about audit findings, the threats made, and sleeping under her desk during the day, among other things. 

The notes from that meeting state that Lanham’s responses to the issues are “Julie does not like me;” “on a medicine and side effect is rage – no longer on that medicine;” and “I clock out when resting in the office.”  

Employee 6 detailed a story in their feedback report when Lanham had taken a deposit bag to a restaurant before depositing it at the bank.

“Darlene took the bank bag to lunch and got distracted when a group of guys were rowdy and having a good time. She left the bank bag on her chair and went over to the bar. The staff looked back when they were leaving and noticed the bank bag lying on her chair. Thankfully they picked it up and took it to her, or we would have lost the deposit,” Employee 6 stated.

Magistrates asked about that incident during the March 12 evaluation. Lanham’s response was “others were with me at lunch and I asked them to not let me forget the bag. I had just taken a couple of steps away when I was reminded to get the bag.” 

Employee 6 also stated Lanham refused to work with them, and was afraid to spend time alone with Lanham.

“She has no respect for me and deliberately keeps financial issues to herself, despite Fiscal Court asking that I be kept in the loop,” Employee 6 stated. “I’m not out to get Darlene, it would be wonderful to see her flourish.  However, I am out to protect the county.  When I hear that a bank deposit was left at the restaurant or that a report wasn’t filed with the IRS, or funds approved that were not done following the proper procedures, I am concerned.”

In conclusion, according to the staff feedback letter, a common thread among staff was a need for more confidence in the treasurer. Over Lanham’s tenure, financial reports have had constant mistakes, delays, and incorrect reporting.

When the Advocate-Messenger reached out to Lanham, she did not provide a comment.

There have yet to be any updates about a possible replacement treasurer.

Editor’s Note: Information in this story was received following an open records request.