Retirement payouts raise questions in Mexico Beach

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 12:08 PM.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Mexico Beach City Council, city attorney Paul Komarek reported that in 2008, former city clerk Patricia Hutchinson received retirement payments of more than $60,000.

In April of this year it was discovered that the funds were intended to pay benefits for 19 retired city employees but the money was accidentally all given to Hutchinson.

The check was authorized by former city administrator Chris Hubbard.

On Wednesday, interim city administrator Marcus Collins filed a claim with its insurance provider to compensate the remaining 18 employees.

Komarek suggested that the city work with Bay County to open a criminal investigation as well to investigate whether or not the money was given with or without the authorization of the council.

Komarek said there’s the potential for a case of “ultra vires,” a Latin term for when someone authorizes something outside of their responsibility, or as Komarek put it, “above their pay grade.”

“We’re still analyzing to see where things went wrong,” said Komarek. “I’m just reporting what I’ve got and recommending various courses of action.”

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