Factfinder 12 follow: Salina fire chief resigns

Resignation follows investigation uncovering time card fraud within FD
Salina fire chief resigns
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 5:06 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - New developments in KWCH’S continuing coverage of issues within the City of Salina Fire Department. The department’s chief was put on administrative leave on Nov. 9. The following Wednesday (11/18/21) Chief Kevin Royse tendered his resignation.

Factfinder 12 first reported on-time card fraud in the department in August 2021. Our investigation uncovered chiefs of staff with the fire department were incorrectly recording their time with the city, and an audit of city records showed they did so at a loss to Salina taxpayers of more than $75,000.

Following the chief’s resignation, Factfinder Investigator Alex Flippin sat down today with the original whistleblower who brought this to our attention to get his reaction

In a message sent Wednesday (11/18/21) and obtained by Factfinder 12, Salina Fire Chief Kevin Royse informed his department that his time with the department was at its end. In it, he writes, in part:

“I will be tendering my resignation as fire chief effective Sunday, November 21, 2021…I know this department will overcome recent unfortunate events and work through these difficult times only to grow stronger.”

City of Salina leaders will not confirm the “unfortunate events” Royse wrote of relating to a city audit uncovering a more than $75,000 loss to taxpayers following time card fraud within the fire department. The man who discovered and reported that fraud, former captain Tim LePage says the news represents a “good start.”

“Is city management going to stake a claim of victory here because they can say that cut the head of the snake off?” LePage said. “I thought well, you know, that’s a great start.”

LePage says he sees the chief’s resignation as a win for the city but still steps away from a victory.

“The chief was ultimately responsible and I and I think this was due,” LePage explained. “What I want to see happen is that the people involved are held accountable.”

Chiefs of staff within the department were found to have incorrectly reported their work hours to the city for years. To date, none have been publicly reprimanded, and Thursday the city declined to comment further.

LePage says he’s glad to see changes are being made but continues to wait to see if those named in the audit will face consequences...while defending those that weren’t to anyone who will listen.

“I want everyone to know when you see an ambulance and a fire truck driving down the streets of Salina. Those aren’t the people involved here,” LePage said.

Kevin Royse’s full letter to the Fire Department is attached to this article.

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