Port of Coupeville hires accountant to look into Greenbank Farm claims

Port of Coupeville hired an accountant to investigate financial allegations made by a former chairperson of a volunteer committee.

Chuck Edwards, a Freeland accountant, is reviewing allegations made by Georgia Gardner, a Coupeville accountant, about apparent errors, omissions and/or inconsistencies in the tax and payroll records of the Greenbank Farm Management Group. Gardner is currently a Whidbey General Hospital commissioner and she is a former state legislator.

According to a motion approved by the commissioners for the Port of Coupeville, Edwards will review correspondence written by Gardner, interview Gardner and trustees for the Greenbank Farm Management Group and provide findings and recommendations for the port commissioners by the end of the year.

The investigation stems from a resignation letter written by Gardner in October that outlined her concerns about the management group’s finances. She had been serving as the chairwoman for a volunteer group, known at as the Greenbank Farm Executive Planning Group, tasked with examining the publicly owned farm and developing recommendations about how it will be managed in the future.

“We think this is a very good development,” said Michael Stansbury, president of the farm’s management group.

In an interview after the meeting, he said staff have conducted a review of the farm’s finances but haven’t found anything that would cause Gardner’s concerns. He added that he’s tried repeatedly to contact Gardner, but hasn’t talked to her yet.

Jim Patton, executive director for the port, said he hopes the investigation will address concerns raised.

Edwards’ work has to be complete by the end of the year in time for a special meeting at which the volunteer group will present its final report.

That special meeting where the planning group will give a report and recommendations is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2 in the Coupeville Library.


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