The Lincoln County Commissioners postponed a hearing Monday to determine the fate of ousted county treasurer Lorie Koertner.
Koertner was escorted out of the courthouse on May 13 into a life of legal limbo. She has not been officially terminated, and won’t be until after the hearing, according to commissioner’s statements.
Nevertheless, she said she is off the payroll and has received other notices of termination.
The hearing to review the charges of against her has been reset for three weeks later. It will be held Monday, July 17, instead of June 24.
The extended time will give the county board the opportunity to review the draft of a state audit / attestation report, as well as time for Koertner and her attorney to review it before the hearing takes place, Commissioners Chairman Joe Hewgley said after the meeting.
The board appointed Commissioner Jerry Woodruff Monday to review the attestation/audit report with Hewgley. Woodruff chairs the county board’s personnel subcommittee.
Typically, a draft report of auditor’s findings is sent to the agency that is audited to give them an opportunity to respond. The responses become part of the final audit report that is released to the public.
Hewgley said Monday he expects to see the attestation / audit later this week or early next week.
In the attestation, the state auditor reviews financial transactions that occurred in less than a year in only the treasurer’s office, a spokeswoman at the auditor’s office said.
The hearing before the commissioners will determine if Koertner committed misconduct while in office by neglecting or refusing to render accounts required by law — or similar offenses, according to the agenda for the hearing.
If the board finds misconduct, they can “remove the Lincoln County Treasurer” from office, the commissioner’s agenda says.
The postponement of proceedings means more delay for Koertner, who is already in a cloud of uncertainty. She was effectively removed from office and escorted out of the courthouse on May 13. She said she is no longer on the payroll. Her last paycheck had the equivalent to two paydays missing – May 14-15 — from the pay period.
She has also been notified that Lincoln County now lists her as a “non-contributing member” of the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System. She said her long-term disability insurance was not deducted from her last check.
And, the Lincoln County Clerk sent her an accountability and disclosure form to complete, something that is required of an elected official when they leave office.
Officially however, she remains the county treasurer until the scheduled hearing is held and the board makes a determination based on evidence and testimony.
Koertner says she was terminated without due process. She told the Bulletin Monday that her reputation has been damaged and she cannot accept the responsibility of another job until the situation is settled. She is living off her savings.
“Who’s going to hire me with this going on?” she asked.
She said it’s the first time she’s had time on her hands in about 25 years, since she joined the Webster County Treasurers staff, where she worked for 19 years before moving to Lincoln County. After she moved, she worked at Sandhills Distributing for three years before she was elected county treasurer.
In other action, the commissioners:
• Postponed bid letting for the reconstruction of South River Road. County Road Supervisor Carla O’Dell said the there is “a little bit of paperwork to take care of yet” and when it’s ready she’ll come back.
• Authorized the appointment of Jeff Boeka to the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau Advisory Board to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Barb Fear.
• Heard an annual update on Region II services for the developmentally disabled. The county provides about $67,000 a year to their efforts. Region II is also funded by other counties as well as the state of Nebraska.
• Referred a tort claim by Lexie Dillard to the county’s insurance carrier. Dillard said she ran into a piece of rebar with her car in the parking lot south of the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Jerome Kramer said the rebar worked out of a parking block, and it has been cut off and he would keep an eye on it.
• Went into closed session to discuss pending litigation.