MOUNT CARMEL - Lower Anthracite Transportation Service (LATS) director and former borough treasurer Megan Janolek takes exception to borough leaders opening up her position amid a $67,000 discrepancy found in an audit of the 2012-13 borough budget.

Borough council took the action Thursday night.

Janolek said Friday she was unaware of any problem until notified by an auditor, and that she found the error shortly thereafter.

Council President Tony Matulewicz, however, said the errors have not yet truly been corrected, and that her strategy of attempting to hide a payroll mistake by "just wiping it away" is not okay.

"It's unacceptable," he said flatly.

Janolek said the problem occurred when she failed to mark down two payrolls in December 2012. She said the missed payrolls were purely a mistake that she did not realize she made until the auditor alerted her.

Once she was aware of this error, she corrected it so the books were balanced, she said.

Matulewicz also said the amount misplaced upped the severity of the mistake.

"We have to take this very seriously," he said. "It's not like we have a huge amount of surplus. We're on a shoestring budget, barely getting through until the next tax season."

Needing help

Janolek also said she asked for help in early 2013 and said it was too much trying to handle both the LATS and treasurer duties.

Matulewicz refuted that point and said Janolek's performance in past years does not match the poor quality of her recent work.

"She handled the job in 2012, she handled the job in 2013, and it was handled quite well," said Matulewicz. "She does not need help. She has more than enough time to do the job, and she did the job before and it was fine. There were some mistakes and they were all minute mistakes."

He also denied that Janolek was forthcoming about her problems with her workload.

"She didn't tell us she needed help, she told Ed (Cuff, borough manager)," he said.

Janolek was still in the treasurer position during the 2012-13 fiscal year, the timespan when the errors found by the auditor occurred. Her duties were transferred to Cuff March 1 so she could focus on managing LATS.

"Saying she doesn't have enough time to do it once in March doesn't absolve her from carrying over mistakes," said Matulewicz.

Matulewicz brought the errors, including the $67,000 reconciliation/discrepancy fund switch, to the attention of the rest of the council at Monday's work session. The council spoke extensively about Janolek without a resolution.

At Thursday's meeting, the board was still conflicted about terminating Janolek. When a motion to open the position of LATS director and borough treasurer was brought up, the board voted unanimously to go into executive session.

Matulewicz said Janolek attended the executive session on Monday. She was not at the borough meeting, which is not required of her job position. She was at work Friday, Matulewicz said.

At the closing of the executive session Thursday, the board voted 5-1 to open Janolek's position and seek applications. Robert Shirmer abstained from the vote; he is a relative. Council vice president Leroy Moser Jr. was the sole dissenting vote. He said he could not publicly disclose his reasoning, but it had to do in part with unanswered questions.

"We weren't even going to discuss it in public but then when there was some doubt (about posting her position), I felt like I really had to let everybody know what was going on here," said Matulewicz. "Something's got to be done. I don't care how nice she is, she made a big mistake and didn't tell anybody about it, and that's unacceptable."

Audit continues

A primary reason Janolek was not immediately let go is because the council does not yet fully understand how the errors occurred because the auditor has not yet completed the audit due to missing documents.

"We do need more time to look into it," said Matulewicz. "It's too soon to do anything."

Janolek was appointed full-time executive director of LATS in July, 2012, after many years as borough treasurer. She received a pay raise for the increase in responsibilities.

"She was too happy to take it," said Matulewicz.

In the same month, borough officials began questioning the discrepancies of LATS bills submitted by the then-service provider, King Coal.

King Coal eventually ended its contract with the borough in January due to the billing issues, which included charges for fuel not used in LATS buses and tires and parts that didn't fit the buses.

Coincidence

Matulewicz said Janolek's title and timing of her arrival has led to an inflated opinion of her role in the investigation, and the discoveries were a team effort of Janolek, borough council and local reporters.

"(Councilman) Gary Hixson figured out the gas. I figured out a whole bunch of stuff. It wasn't like it was Megan to the rescue," said Matulewicz. "She happened to be the LATS director when all this stuff was found out."

He added that in addition to help from locals, a state-funded accountant came to help her with the LATS finances.

"She did a great job, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't like she discovered all this stuff with King Coal," said Matulewicz. "We were all working on it."

The LATS budget is separate from the borough budget, and is currently being audited by two entities due to the past issues, said Matulewicz Thursday.

While Janolek is no longer treasurer, the post for the position will include both LATS director and borough treasurer duties.