BRISTOL, VA - Questions remain regarding the spending habits of employees at BVU authority, a political subdivision of the state of Virginia, which provides electric, water, sewer, cable and internet services to customers in Bristol and Washington County, Virginia.
In October 2013, Washington County, Virginia deputies got involved after BVU board member Doug Fleenor questioned some employee spending habits.
The interim president and CEO Mike Bundy answered some questions in an email to current board members, including $3,600 spent at Outback Steakhouse, something Bundy says was for a retirement dinner, $600 spent at Troutdale restaurant, said to be for a United Way fundraising event, and individual purchases made at coffee shops and fast food restaurants, which Bundy says were approved travel meals.
Bundy says changes to spending started in August, the same month former BVU CEO Wes Rosenbalm resigned. Bundy took over in October 2013. He says spending is down 35 percent for the last five months of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.
Fleenor says he has more concerns. "I understand that he wants talk about the last four months, and that's fine, change has obviously been made. But the reality is we're talking about 18 months-plus of credit card charges that are inappropriate. Over $200,000 charges in credit card charges, many of them I feel inappropriate," he said Wednesday.
Bundy says he wasn't in charge during that time period and that he's making changes now. He says 16 percent of the 165 BVU employees carry credit cards, and adds that's a good thing. "I would say with the appropriate oversight, we want them to have those cards. The citizens want them to have those cards, because when there's a power outage or water outage, the last thing we want folks to do is to stop to go get some lunch, or stop restoring power to get parts they need," he said.
We asked Fleenor, an attorney, his thoughts on the investigation; he says if the credit card charges were not improper, they're still inappropriate.
As far as any criminal charges in the case, that's something left to the Commonwealth's Attorney and the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff's Office.
We talked to Washington County, Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney Nicole Price; she says it's an ongoing investigation and there's no timeline for when the investigation may finish.