Missing Corn Palace Money

The former director of the city-owned  in Mitchell, S.D., recently resigned after being called out for mishandling funds during his time with the building. 

Photo: facebook.com/SDCornPalace

Mark Schilling often counted money from the arena in his office alone, failed to keep accurate financial records and misused a city credit card, according to a state audit report obtained by the Daily Republic.

The audit was conducted last December, although initial results were only recently presented to local officials, leading Mitchell Mayor Ken Tracy to call for Schilling’s resignation.

Schilling has claimed he doesn’t think he did anything wrong, but agreed to step down March 3.

“At this point, we certainly don’t have any evidence that money was taken from the city,” Tracy told the Daily Republic. “I have said time and time again that (Schilling’s) resignation was asked for not because I have evidence that he took any money, but simply for failure to follow the procedures set forth by the city.”

The audit reported controls over money collected at the venue’s concession stands were “not adequately designed or functioning properly to safeguard assets or prevent and detect errors, fraud or abuse.”

Specifically, the documents note Schilling told auditors that he’d routinely count money in his office and then discard transaction records from the registers.

Auditors asked a Corn Palace employee Dec. 13 to perform a flash report of net sales from the venue’s cash registers.

While net sales were found to be more than $4,000, records from a later count showed net sales of around $3,100, with no records to account for the difference.

“They simply could not track and determine what specifically was going on with the money,” Tracy added. “Was it deposited somewhere else later? We just don’t know.”

Additionally, the audit found at least seven instances of Schilling using a city credit card to pay for trips, meals and luggage, a violation of city policy.

The city has reportedly implemented new policies to ensure two people are involved in counting money at the venue and detailed records are kept.

The state’s Division of Criminal Investigation is also currently looking into the issue.