On Feb. 20, the Trumansburg Area Chamber of Commerce announced that Chamber President Elaine Springer has been suspended from the board pending investigation into fiscal oversight during her time on the Chamber. The motion came as a result of revelations discovered by the recently appointed treasurer.
“Last week, our newly appointed treasurer abruptly stepped down from her position after her initial review of the Chamber’s bank account discovered many suspicious transactions and a balance well below what was needed to pay outstanding bills,” said Trumansburg Chamber board members in their announcement. “This concerning email led several Chamber board members to ask follow up questions with our bank.”
In this investigation, directors discovered that the Chamber credit card had been compromised in early December of 2019. This activity was flagged by the bank, Tompkins Trust Company, and bank officials attempted to contact Chamber President Springer several times. Springer at that time was the lone official signatory on the account and did not respond to any of the bank’s calls.
“Eventually the account was frozen, but not before a significant portion of the balance had been used,” the announcement said.
On Feb. 19, members of the Chamber board reviewed recent bank statements, met with representatives of Tompkins Trust Company and conversed with the Trumansburg Police Department.
“It was made clear to us that the only path to recovering these stolen funds is through an official legal investigation,” the directors said. “It is the intent of the board to pursue exactly that.”
At the Wednesday morning meeting, the board voted to suspend Springer from the board pending the outcome of the investigation. According to the announcement, the suspension was not based on any speculation of her involvement in stealing funds but rather the “negligent act of not reporting the missing card sooner or responding to the bank’s repeated outreach.”Springer, in an email with Tompkins Weekly, responded to the board’s actions.
“I regret that when I took time over the holidays to focus on family, the Chamber account was compromised and I was not made aware of it until this month,” she said. “I fully support the Chamber board and will cooperate fully in any investigation. I offer my sincere apologies to the entire community I love and value so much.”
During the same meeting, the board voted to name Keith Hannon as interim president during the investigation.
“Hannon has been on the board for two years, and we feel his position as a village trustee and Trumansburg police commissioner offers a unique perspective to examine the Chamber’s policies, process, and checks and balances while the investigation proceeds,” according to the announcement.
Chamber board members are in contact with the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, which has offered guidance and support. The Chamber offered a response to Chamber members as a result of these revelations.
“As small, local business owners, we know how hard you work for your money,” the directors said. “We also know you trust that the Chamber will maintain responsible care of the dues and additional financial support you provide and reinvest it in a way that advances your life’s work and your presence in our community. In this regard, we have failed you.”
The Trumansburg Chamber board is committed to recovering all funds and using this incident as an opportunity to examine how to better serve village needs, directors said.
“Greater Trumansburg is fortunate to be rich with unique businesses and devoted business owners, and your Chamber must rise up and match your ambition and dedication,” according to the announcement. “That will be our charge moving forward.”
The Chamber plans to update members with the status and progress of the investigation as it moves along, Hannon said.
“The TCAA board of directors is reviewing historic bank statements, while leaving any and all investigations to the police,” he said in an email with Tompkins Weekly. “We will have more to offer at the completion of the investigation.”
Editor’s note: Elaine Springer has been a regular contributor to Tompkins Weekly as our Trumansburg Connection writer for the past 18 months.
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