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Elkhart Parks and Recreation Department audit turned down

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ELKHART, Ind.-- In late July, Elkhart Parks and Recreation Superintendent, Randall Norton was charged with embezzling about $20,000 dollars from his previous employer in Michigan.

Norton began his job with the city in December, and after learning of the criminal charges, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese proposed an audit of the parks department to make sure all taxpayer money is accounted for.

That audit would cost up to $10,000 dollars but it was rejected by the city council in a 7 to 2 vote.

“I think it was misguided to spend $10,000 dollars unnecessarily. I think the mayor made the first mistake of not terminating him and his resignation," said councilman Dwight Fish.

Councilwoman, Mary Olson believes transparency and accountability should be the top priority, not cost.

“If $10,000 provides assurance, my obligation is to legally cover the tax payers I represent," said Olson.

The mayor wasn’t available to comment on camera but his office released a statement:

Mayor Tim Neese was not anticipating that the Council would vote down the proposed external audit of Parks Department expenditures. As he previously stated, the Mayor felt confident that all funds had been handled appropriately, however, in the interest of transparency, he felt an obligation to the community to confirm that as fact. The Mayor believes the requested amount of up to $10,000, while significant, would have been money well spent.

Both candidates running for Elkhart mayor this fall believe the council got it right because there are regular audits four times a year.

“The council made the appropriate decision not to fund it. Its not amount we need based on the fact that those quarterly audits occur," said Democratic candidate for Elkhart mayor, Rod Roberson.

“They simply look at the issues. Its not rocket science. So all they got to do is look and make sure it’s all accounted for. As i know it is so all of this is unnecessary," said Dave Miller, Republican candidate for Elkhart mayor.

Right now Randall Norton remains on the job and no special audit of the parks department will be done.

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