Harbormaster exonerated, but marina is without Funk
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
May 6, 2011 · Updated 1:45 PM
A criminal investigation of the Oak Harbor Marina’s financial practices has revealed no indications of missing public funds.
Conducted by the police department in April, by order of Mayor Jim Slowik, the investigation identified a host of concerns over the marina’s cash collection procedures but found no evidence of theft or embezzlement.
“I could find no documentation that theft of public monies has occurred,” wrote Oak Harbor Police Detective Ron Hofkamp in his report. “I have also found that the city’s concern over the missing receipt book is unfounded, as the yellow copies of that missing receipt book were located by the auditor, and the monies accounted for.”
The investigation results appear to vindicate marina staff, particularly former Harbormaster Mack Funk, of wrongdoing. Funk resigned in February about one month after the Washington State Auditor released findings in its annual report.
The state agency identified inadequate internal controls over cash-receipting and other financial safeguards at the marina and within the city’s finance department. They put public funds at risk, the annual report said.
Following its release, Slowik said his concerns were primarily with the marina. City officials had been aware of some of the problems and actually asked auditors to shine a spotlight on the facility and its financial practices.
While auditors never found any evidence of illegal activity or embezzlement, Slowik ordered police to launch their own investigation just to be sure. Funk turned in his resignation a short time later but both he and city officials declined to explain why at the time.
When questioned again this week, Slowik said simply that Funk had not been fired but voluntarily resigned. However, in a written statement to the newspaper, Funk claimed that he did so only at the request of senior city officials.
“The city administrator (Paul Schmidt) advised me that the city was about to launch an investigation of the audit problems at the marina and asked me to resign my position as harbormaster,” Funk wrote. “I was surprised because I had only received a positive performance evaluation.”
The internal procedures faulted by the auditor had been in place for years and weren’t identified as problems in either the 2007 or the 2008 audit. Funk went on to write that he was “terminated under a cloud of suspicion and public embarrassment without opportunity to defend myself and my employees.”
Schmidt denied having asked Funk to resign, saying he didn’t have the authority to make those kinds of decisions.
“That’s not what happened,” Schmidt said.
But when asked what did happen, he declined to comment.
Slowik said he did not think Funk was a bad employee and was glad that the investigation exonerated him and any other marina employees from theft. He even said that Funk could apply for the position should it reopen at a later date.
“He was a good employee but he did resign,” Slowik said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.