By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Former Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District Manager Chris Fisher wants residents to know that all financial information relating to his time at the job is available, as he intended it to be when he started the position in July 2010.
Shenandoah Farms resident Melissa Chappell-White came before the Board of Supervisors recently and asked for an itemized report on all of Fisher's expenditures, activities and progress with a road study. Fisher left the position on Feb. 3, after receiving a consultant job offer from the Virginia Department of Transportation, where he worked for 10 1⁄2 years before taking the job in Warren County.
"If it weren't for the offer, I would still be out there," Fisher said, referencing the field work he did in the farms, which includes more than 43 miles of roads.
Fisher said 16 days after becoming manager of the sanitary district, Chappell-White came to his office to discuss accountability when it comes to finances.
"I assured her that I would make everything available to the public. I always kept a very open door policy," he said. Residents often requested expenditure documents, and Fisher said he had no problem providing it.
"I kept detailed, duplicate copies of invoices and receipts. I also had a file with emails between myself and residents. Everything is still on the computer that I used," Fisher said.
Deputy County Administrator Bob Childress explained that when Fisher made the decision to purchase maintenance materials or other things, he would provide all associated information to the finance department, as well as the county's administration.
"For each month's expenditures, an accounts listing would be developed. Myself and Doug Stanley would get a copy, the finance director would review each line item, and if everyone's satisfied, then it goes before the Board of Supervisors for their approval. A public copy is in the administrative office for anyone to look at," Childress said of the accounting process. "Everything was done above board, and Chris even cross-referenced each purchase to show which roadway it went to."
Fisher, in his first year as manager, saved over $250,000 for the sanitary district in maintenance costs, according to Childress.
The sanitary district began a road and drainage study in August 2010, and Fisher said he did a portion of the field work -- surveying and inspection of roads -- and had constant interactions with residents to address their specific concerns. A draft of the study was provided in January, and Fisher offered three pages of additional comments and recommendations.
Fisher also claims to have spoken face to face with Chappell-White in January, even though Chappell-White, in her letter to the board, said no Shenandoah Farms resident had seen or heard from Fisher since October 2011.
Childress received a copy of the final road study this past week, and plans to review it and move forward with the project in the next two to three weeks. He met with the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms last Saturday to give a maintenance report, and also to discuss Chappell-White's concerns.
"The members were not surprised, as they've dealt with things like this before, but they were comfortable and confident that everything Chris did was above board," Childress said.
"I feel good about what I did while I was there," Fisher said of the position. "I don't blame [residents] for wanting to know where their money is going, but the information is available. All you gotta' do is ask."