Lancaster County Treasurer Andy Stebbing is offering to repay the mileage payments that the state auditor says lacked proper documentation.
Stebbing says he asked his attorney to call the county attorney with his offer to repay the disputed mileage reimbursement even though the treasurer says he drove more miles than what he reported on the mileage forms.
“In the interest of all citizens in Lincoln and Lancaster County, I felt that it was best to resolve my mistake of not keeping detailed and specific records on my local trips,” Stebbing said in a text message about his offer to repay the money.
Stebbing says he did not keep detailed and specific mileage records but no one, not the county clerk nor the county board who monitored the reports, ever told him he needed to provide more-specific information on the monthly mileage forms.
If anyone had brought this to his attention during the last eight years, “I would have corrected it immediately at that time,” he said in the text.
Stebbing apologized for the lack of specifics in reporting mileage. “Being transparent, honest, truthful and diligent for the people of Lancaster County, I, along with my attorney, reached out to the County Attorney and the County Board to make a good faith gesture ... to return the $3,400 reimbursement in question,” he said in the text message.
“I care deeply about the Treasurer’s Office, my staff, my duties and responsibilities. I’m sorry for the stress and worry I caused,” he wrote.
Late Thursday night, the county board and its attorney had not heard anything from Stebbing's attorney, board chairman Todd Wiltgen said.
"This is news to me," he said. "I look forward to seeing it in writing. It's hard for me to trust anything Andy says."
The state auditor’s report said most of the $3,400 in Stebbing's mileage requests submitted during an almost three-year period lacked proper documentation.
“In most cases, the mileage reimbursed appeared to be questionable, unreasonable or not supported based on the locations of travel stated on the form,” according to the report.
Thursday morning, the Lancaster County Board delayed any discussion about the auditor’s report until a closed meeting next week because of potential litigation.
The board planned to discuss and perhaps take action to collect the money paid to Stebbing, according to Wiltgen.
The auditor specifically questioned Stebbing’s mileage on legal holidays and 11 trips made to Carpetland in August 2015.
In an interview on "Drive Time Lincoln" with Coby Mach on KLIN-AM this week, Stebbing said the numerous Carpetland trips were an error, but he often goes to the treasurer's offices on legal holidays.
Stebbing said he made a couple of trips to Carpetland to encourage the company to bid on a small job in the treasurer's office, but not 11 trips.
That was an error because of hastily filling out the form, he said.
But Stebbing said he often goes to the treasurer's offices on less-traditional holidays. He makes sure the closed signs are up and he tells people, who often show up at the offices on these holidays, that the offices are closed.
People from the nearby City Mission often sit on the steps of the West O office and drink beer or coffee and smoke cigarettes, said Stebbing. He will often pick up cigarette butts or take his weedeater to trim the grass. "It’s a good time to get it spruced up.”
Stebbing also reiterated that he does not intend to resign his county treasurer post, is running for re-election and intends to win.
Stebbing also criticized Wiltgen, who called for his resignation after the treasurer was charged with five felony counts, including selling vehicles as a business without a dealer's license, falsifying bills of sale and filing fraudulent state income taxes. Stebbing pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“I am not going to resign. I’m not a quitter. I have done nothing wrong," Stebbing said.
"Todd Wiltgen is probably a little bit embarrassed that he was not managing the money very well for the county. I would say to Todd Wiltgen, who is a thorn in a lot of people’s side, that he should relax and do his job more diplomatically.
“If I was guilty of anything, I would apologize and walk away,” Stebbing said on the radio show.