Council: Audit shows late CVB director inappropriately used funds

By John Hamilton -

WILMINGTON — Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth Thursday night said an audit showed the late Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director inappropriately used CVB funds.

“The ups and downs of a mayor’s job,” he said after giving his report during the Wilmington City Council meeting on Thursday.

The first part of his report addressed an audit of the CVB and the late Executive Director Debbie Stamper. Stamper, who directed the CVB for 18 years, died in December 2016.

“This report identified areas of inappropriate use of funds within the organization made by Debbie Stamper. From what the city knows, restitution is complete and Clinton County Visitors Bureau’s funds were made whole. These findings are heartbreaking but highlight the fact that no one is infallible to mistakes,” said Stanforth.

While he didn’t specify what the report stated, he said, “This administration and council are committed to transparency and truth in government. Even when the conversation gets uncomfortable.”

Stanforth added that this was a reminder to everyone elected, appointed, employed or volunteer that “we must vigilant in guarding the trust that the public is giving us.”

Immediately following the release of the report and after receiving permission from the state auditor to discuss the issue, CVB President Doug DeVilbiss reached out to the administration through Judiciary Chairman Matt Purkey to discuss the issues and to assure the city that the CVB is actively updating the organization’s bylaw policies and bringing closure.

“The city trusts and values the mission of the Visitors Bureau and we remain committed to supporting them and our relationship. We’ll work to assist them and further their mission of attracting tourism to our wonderful town,” he said.

Stanforth also shared a letter from Gene and Pat Guzzi praising two of Wilmington’s firefighters who helped them on Thanksgiving eve on a carbon monoxide alarm. The letter detailed how Ken Ianson and William Jones came to their home, detected the carbon monoxide and helped them through it.

“We’re fortunate to live in a community where we are cared for with respect. They stayed with us ‘til the count was down to zero,” said the Guzzis’ letter. “We just wanted you to know how efficient, prompt and courteous those two gentlemen were.”

By John Hamilton