Kiawah administrator Rucker suspended as town audits finances, attorney says

Kiawah Island has suspended Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker as it conducts an audit of its finances in response to an allegation made to Town Council by an employee, town attorney Dennis Rhoad said.

Kiawah Island Town Administrator Tumiko Rucker has been suspended with pay while the town conducts a forensic audit of its finances, town attorney Dennis Rhoad said Friday.

Rhoad said that a town employee made an allegation to Town Council that prompted the audit. “We’ve got an obligation to investigate the allegation that was made,” he said.

The audit should conclude in the next two or three weeks, he said.

Rucker told The Post and Courier on May 7 that she was resigning effective June 30 because she wanted a new challenge. She has been with the town for nearly 10 years.

The suspension of Rucker happened subsequent to her resignation, Rhoad said.

She is also chief executive officer for Sea Island Comprehensive Health Care Corp. and Sea Island Community Development Fund Inc., according to the organization’s website.

State Rep. Robert Brown, a Charleston Democrat who serves on the Sea Island board of directors, said the board voted last month to make Rucker a full-time CEO. Brown said he did not think a decision had been made on her salary. Brown said he had not heard that the town suspended Rucker with pay.

Town Treasurer Kenneth Gunnells resigned May 21, Mayor Charles Lipuma said a day after. Gunnells and Lipuma disagreed on an issue that Lipuma said he was not at liberty to discuss.

“He (Gunnells) was unhappy with this matter, so he resigned. I told him that I was disappointed that he was resigning and if he had a change of heart to let me know,” Lipuma said at the time. Gunnells had been with the town for about nine years, the mayor said.

The town announced the audit in a posting at its website May 26.

On Friday, no one answered a home phone for Rucker obtained through directory assistance. A recording said it was not possible to leave a message because the mailbox was full. Gunnells did not respond to a message left Friday at a number for him listed with his annual filing for 2014 at the State Ethics Commission website.

The current total compensation for the town administrator is about $137,000. That includes salary and fringe benefits such as 401(k) match, state health insurance and state retirement, Rucker said in May. Her 2014 filing with the Ethics Commission lists her salary as $94,000.

Gunnells 2014 filing with the Ethics Commissions lists his annual town income as $93,839.

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