Economic development director fired for alleged double-dipping on travel expenses

By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

DOUBLE DIPPING: Long-time City of Walhalla Economic Development director Kathy Stremick was terminated on August 4 after evidence was presented indicating she had allegedly double-dipped on travel reimbursements.

WALHALLA, N.D. — After intervention from the Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office, city leaders in Walhalla are talking about why long-time economic development director Kathy Stremick was fired.

Previously, City Council members and City Attorney Lawrence DuBois refused to comment on Stremick’s termination during an Aug. 4 city meeting. The matter was discussed in executive session, with the decision to terminate Stremick announced to the public afterward.

After Watchdog.org contacted Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office, open meeting requirements were explained to DuBois, who agreed to provide an explanation.

It turns out Stremick was accused of double-dipping, allegedly collecting reimbursements for travel expenses from both the state of North Dakota and the city of Walhalla.

Based on the information I reviewed it was my opinion that Ms. Stremick vouchered for mileage and was paid for mileage to attend meetings by the state of North Dakota,” Dubois wrote in an email to Watchdog. “Ms. Stremick, as the city of Walhalla Economic Development officer, vouchered to the city of Walhalla for those same mileage expenses and was reimbursed by the city of Walhalla for those mileage expenses.”

Stremick also had been reimbursed for lodging expenses by the state while charging those expenses to a city credit card, according to DuBois.

A request for details about the dollar amount for reimbursements in dispute went unanswered by DuBois, but the Grand Forks Herald has reported that it was “more than $4,200.”

According to DuBois, the city has referred the matter “to the Pembina County States Attorney for review as to possible criminal action and further that this matter be reported to the state of North Dakota.”

The Pembina County States Attorney’s office would not comment on the matter citing an on-going investigation.

According to Stremick’s LinkedIn profile, she had worked for Walhalla since 1983. In 2008, she was awarded the ND Tourism Industry Leadership Award by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. That year she also ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the North Dakota House in District 10.

Stremick has not responded to requests for comment to her home phone number or her personal Facebook page.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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