DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — The city got some much needed good news Monday night.
Those attending the DeFuniak Springs City Council meeting learned not only that the IRS would no longer pursue the city for just over $95,000 in past due payroll taxes, but also that a veteran administrator had agreed to accept the job of city manager.
Mell Smigielski, a city administrator since 1990 and most recently the city manager of Bay County’s Mexico Beach, accepted the city manager’s job and agreed to a $95,000 salary.
It is hoped Smigielski's hire will bring stability to a position that has been consistently unstable for the past several years. Since 2011 DeFuniak Springs has seen six city managers and four finance directors either resign or be fired.
"I was very glad of that; he certainly meets all of the qualifications," DeFuniak Springs Mayor Bob Campbell said of Smigielski's hiring.
City Council members became aware that the IRS was attempting to collect a five-year-old, $95,196.22 debt from the city soon after a bill arrived May 28. The council quickly voted to request the accounting firm of Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund look into the matter.
Accountants for the firm found that in 2013 W-2 forms were filed with the Social Security Administration that only included Social Security wages of $226,692, but correct W-2 forms were issued to employees and documents were sent to the IRS reporting Social Security wages of $3,493,848.
“The reason for the incorrect submission to the SSA is unknown,” CPA Charles Landers told the city in a letter presented Monday.
The discrepancy between the SSA records and IRS records were brought to the finance director’s attention in 2016, but his attempt to correct the mistake somehow went awry. More correspondence was exchanged between the city and IRS in 2017 before the tax bill found its way to the City Council in May.
Landers on Monday provided the City Council with a packet of documents which will be sent to the IRS to resolve the five-year-old dispute. The documents will, among other things, claim a refund and request an abatement of fees and fines.
“We’re moving forward,” City Clerk Loretta Laird said.