Missy Crutchfield, Chattanooga Administrator of Education, Arts and CulturePhoto by David Banks
Red flags raised over financial management practices at the Tivoli Theatre were ignored for more than seven years, records show.
Missy Crutchfield, administrator of the Department of Education, Arts & Culture, said Wednesday she was aware of report findings critical of how money was handled at the theater.
Sandy Coulter, general manager of the Tivoli and Memorial Auditorium, resigned last month when confronted with allegations she misappropriated funds.
The two venues come under Crutchfield's department's responsibility, but she said she never addressed the issues because the city's internal audit and finance departments kept telling her the problems could be corrected later.
"Now we know we've got to" deal with them, Crutchfield said.
Internal affairs reports in 2005 and 2009 revealed problems, but they never were corrected.
City Auditor Stan Sewell denied that his office ever gave the nod to bad financial procedures.
"We've never said they not fix the problem," he said.
Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said responsibility for fixing problems rests with the department head.
"Whenever a department head sees a problem, it's their job to correct the procedures," Beeland said Wednesday.
Coulter had worked for the city for 32 years and had been general manager for the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium since 2007.
Sewell said city auditors found some inconsistencies in the venues' books during a routine check. One consistent problem was administrators writing checks to cash and then paying vendors only in cash.
That practice can easily lead to mishandling of funds, he said, adding that the district attorney and state comptroller have been notified. Pursuing criminal charges would be up to the district attorney.
Crutchfield said she and her staff are managing the two venues and have advertised internally to fill the general manager position.
"I'm very disturbed by all of this," she said.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...