Two Ripley city employees fired after state audit is released - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Two Ripley city employees fired after state audit is released

By Justin Hanson - bio | email

RIPLEY, TN (WMC-TV) - State officials are continuing their investigation into Ripley, Tennessee's Gas and Water department. 

The investigation was initiated after a recent state audit that left residents with more questions than answers.

Bill Maxwell, the director of Ripley's Gas and Water department, along with its accountant, Christie Hudnall, are off the job. In a four to two vote, the city board voted them out of office after they were named in the state audit.

"Bill is a good guy," Ripley resident Terry Gower said. "He's come over and talked to me several times."

Gower, who works across the street from the city's gas and water office, says Maxwell is an honest man.

"If he bent a rule or two, I think he was trying to correct other wrongs that fell on his shoulders," he said.

According to the four year audit, Maxwell used nearly 700 hours of leave he hadn't earned, and that his leave was adjusted to add more time. State auditors also found that Maxwell failed to review labor and equipment invoices before payment. 

The audit also says gas and water purchases were not publicly advertised and bid on according to the city ordinance. 

Maxwell and Hudnall would not comment on the case.

"There is a lot of undercurrent to try and please people to avoid the backlash that comes if you don't get along with people," Gower said.

Ripley's mayor didn't have a comment, but former alderman Terry Hightower says he doesn't think Bill Maxwell did anything wrong. 

Hightower is also mentioned in the audit.  He was one of the ones responsible for hiring Bill Maxwell two years ago. 

The case is now in the hands of District Attorney Mike Dunavant. 

You can read the entire audit by clicking here.

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