Wimberley policy changes made after withdrawal mix-up

A $200 withdrawal by Wimberley Mayor Susan Jaggers from the city’s bank account in November 2018 eventually prompted a policy change in how the city’s money is handled, according to a News-Dispatch investigation.

Part of that information came from documents, as well as copies of emails between city staff and city council members, that were requested via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Those documents were approved by the Texas Attorney General’s Office weeks after Wimberley officials fought their release.

According to the documents, Jaggers withdrew $200 from the city’s bank account, which she said was an error on the part of Ozona Bank during a transaction.

The issue came up when city staff in December 2018 asked Jaggers about $200 taken from the city’s account at Ozona Bank that wasn’t accounted for, according to an email chain with Shawn Cox, Wimberley city administrator, the city attorney and Wimberley Mayor Pro Tem Gary Barchfeld

Jaggers initially said she was not familiar with such transaction. Once she heard it was a transaction from a bank counter, Jaggers said she recalled a withdrawal she made a month previous.

On Nov. 19, 2018, Jaggers said she went to the Ozona Bank branch in Wimberley and tried to withdraw money from the ATM using her debit card from another bank. However, the ATM was not working at the time.

According to documents, Jaggers does not have a personal bank account at Ozona. When she needs money, Jaggers said she withdraws funds using her debit card from ATMs, including the one at Ozona Bank. Jaggers said she has had a banking relationship in the past with Ozona during her tenure as the local VFW treasurer and knows many of the tellers.

Jaggers said in the documents she had never been to the bank to conduct business for the city. In a December 2018 email to city council member Allison Davis, City Administrator Shawn Cox said Wimberley does not have debit cards on its accounts.

Jaggers then went inside and informed the Ozona Bank teller she wished to withdraw money from her debit card. After a review of her identity, a bank ticket was given to Jaggers.

“After he (the teller) prepared it, he had me sign the ticket, gave me the $200 and I left,” Jaggers said in the email. “Clearly my intention and understanding about the transaction was that it was cash advance from my debit card since the ATM machine did not work.”

In the email chain, Jaggers said she participated in a meeting with Barchfeld, Cox and Chris Smith, Ozona’s chief operations officer (COO). According to Jaggers, Smith reviewed the bank video which showed Jaggers unsuccessfully attempting to withdraw money from the ATM with her debit card.

Jaggers said the teller recalled preparing the bank ticket, which had an account number, amount, date, an account name that showed “Susan Jaggers,” but no signature.

“In conclusion, Mr. Smith told me that it was his professional opinion that this issue resulted in a miscommunication between me and the teller and that the bank made an error in preparing the withdrawal slip and showing the account name Susan Jaggers,” she said.

As a result of the incident, Jaggers said she had the bank process a cash advance transaction in the amount of $200 from her personal debit card in late December.

“Ozone Bank is then responsible to take corrective action between Ozona and the city,” Jaggers said.

It is unknown at this time whether the situation has been resolved between the city and the bank. Cox, Jaggers and representatives from Ozona Bank to did not respond to comment on the incident.

On Jan. 3, Wimberley city leaders unanimously voted to amend its purchasing policy, which dictated how future withdrawals can be made from the city account.

The changes added additional buffers to protect the city’s bank account. When the finance department receives an invoice, it would be cross-checked against approved purchase orders.

“No invoice should be paid until duly authorized by the department head or supervisor and approved the city administrator,” according to the updated ordinance.

All checks, along with accounts payable documents, are reviewed by the city administrator and require two signatures.

Cox said this policy would not allow cash withdrawals from the bank and would require any signatory on the account from walking into the bank with a deposit slip and withdrawing money from the account without the two signatures on the check.

“Effectively, what this says is that you can’t just go to the bank and ask for money,” Barchfeld said. “And this is a flaw in our purchasing, and I think this closes it up.”

Cox said the city has asked Ozona Bank to follow the request, but acknowledged that a mistake could be missed.

“People are people,” he said at the meeting. “People make mistakes that they shouldn’t.”

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