The People's Tribune

Several Pike County Departments Implement Changes Following State Auditor’s Report

Several county departments are in the process of making changes to address issues raised in a report by the Missouri State Auditor’s office following an audit of Pike County and the 45th Judicial Circuit Court for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016.

The state issues ratings on a scale of excellent, good, fair and poor. The County received a good rating meaning the entity is well-managed and that recommendations have been or are in the process of being made. The Circuit Court was given a fair rating meaning numerous changes are recommended or required.

A great deal of the recommendations of both audits dealt with segregation of duties and achieving better oversight. With the number of staff members in each department this is sometimes a challenge for smaller operations. Each recommendation was provided a response by the county/circuit clerk in reports that were released last week. Complete reports can be viewed online.

On the Pike County audit, the state outlined several problems in certain departments and was critical of the sales tax rollback.

The report stated, “As noted in our prior audit report, the county has not sufficiently reduced the property tax levy to offset 50 percent of sales tax monies received resulting in excess property taxes collected that were not sufficiently adjusted in subsequent years. At December 31, 2012, the total insufficient property tax reduction was $77,900. The amount has since decreased by only $2,600 and at Dec. 31, 2016, the insufficient reduction was $75,300.”

The County responded that reductions of $38,528 and $10,035 were achieved in 2013 and 2016, respectively. It was further stated that due to unanticipated increases in sales tax collections of approximately 14 percent, reductions were not achieved in 2014 and 2015. The county has included an adjustment for the insufficient reduction noted in the prior audit report in future calculations. The county will reduce the cumulative by $10,000 to $30,000 per year.

The audit was also critical of several procedures in the Sheriff’s Department. The audit noted a shortage of just of $700 was found in the inmate account and that monthly bank reconciliations and list of liabilities was needed in the future.

Sheriff Stephen Korte outlined how duties will be segregated in the future and noted that changes have already been implemented to audit inmate accounts. He pointed out this has resulted in extra labor and postage and requires disbursements to be held longer.

The audit further revealed that compensatory time has built up in the sheriff’s office beyond what is allowed by county policy.

Employees are not allowed to accumulate and retain more than 80 hours. As of June 2017 the audit revealed that seven employees of the sheriff’s office had between 113-492 hours. The County Commission reviews and approves time sheets. According to the report, commissioners will be working with Korte to find a solution.

The audit also noted insufficient data control in several departments of the county.

It was recommended the offices of the collector, sheriff, prosecuting attorney, recorder of deeds and assessor establish adequate passwords and controls to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to computers and data.

It was further pointed out that security controls be put in place for periods of inactivity on computers in the offices of the collector, sheriff and recorder of deeds.

The audit also discussed the need for greater data backup procedures.

The County Commission provided the following response, “We have discussed the concerns identified in the recommendations with the county’s elected officials. We are developing a county-wide electronic data security policy which will include password and security controls, and data backup procedures.”

Also included in the county audit was recommendations for the public administrator’s office. Nina Long retired last year and Debby Tepen won office and has been working to reconcile accounts. Funds of just under $157,000 must be distributed to the heirs of wards. Tepen indicated a final settlement of assets will be done soon so monies can be disbursed.

The audit of the 45th Judicial Circuit Court noted significant weaknesses with accounting controls and procedures.

Circuit Clerk Jerri Harrelson noted the office lost three full-time deputy clerks and one part-time clerk over the past few years and has not replaced all the positions lost. The department is still lacking one full-time deputy clerk.

The audit recommended the court update the administrative plan, work out payment plans for unreconciled debt and determine uncollectable debt to the court. The report further suggested the office strengthen independent and supervisory review, ensure monthly bank reconciliations be performed and that review of open cash bonds be done periodically. The audit noted that accrued case costs owed to the court as of April 17, 2017 totaled about $728,000.

Harrelson indicated all recommendations would be met.

Comments are closed

Text Description

Text Description

Text Description

Log in | 2017 The People's Tribune