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The cover letter that fronts the report states: “The scope of our audit included, but was not necessarily limited to, the two years ended Dec. 31, 2010.
The objectives of our audit were to: 1) Evaluate the county’s internal controls over significant management and financial functions; 2) Evaluate the county’s compliance with certain legal provisions; and 3) Evaluate the economy and efficiency of certain management practices and operations, including certain financial transactions.
“I am hopeful that county officials will work together to make needed improvements for the taxpayers of Douglas County,” Auditor Schweich said.
At this time, the report has only been made public online. The Douglas County Herald anticipates receiving a hard-copy version of the report within a few days. That report will not only include the recommendations and findings reported by the Auditor’s office, but will also include responses from county officials regarding those recommendations.
Following are some of the key topics highlighted by the Auditor’s office in regard to the audit.
As noted in our prior audit, the financial condition of the General Revenue and Special Road and Bridge Funds has declined, and, although revenues continue to decline, spending is expected to increase. The County Commission needs to reduce spending as much as possible, put controls in place to use county resources efficiently, and maximize revenues.
Real Estate Purchase
The county did not adequately plan the judicial center project. The county agreed to purchase land and buildings for $120,229 before securing a funding source. Both proposed county sales tax ballot measures failed. The county did not require an inspection of the properties for needed repairs or asbestos removal to be performed as part of the real estate contract. Additionally, the county did not estimate the costs to demolish and dispose of two vacant houses still on the property. Moreover, the county did not obtain an appraisal prior to purchasing the property to ensure it was paying a reasonable price.
Disbursements, Vehicle Procedures, and Personnel Policy
The county needs to improve controls and procedures related to bidding, fuel use, vehicle maintenance, and payroll disbursements. The county does not always solicit bids or retain sufficient bid documentation. As noted in our prior audit, fuel use is not reconciled to fuel purchases, and mileage and fuel use logs are not maintained to document the appropriate use of county vehicles and equipment. The Sheriff’s office does not maintain maintenance records for its vehicles, and road and bridge employees are compensated for their lunch breaks, but other county employees are not.
The county needs to improve its controls and procedures over emergency management receipts and disbursements. The county did not have written contracts with the former Emergency Management Director, former Assistant Director, or Emergency Medical Technician Instructor. The former Director and Assistant Director, who are husband and wife, received payments for a number of questionable expenses. The former Director was reimbursed for equipment without adequate supporting documentation, he and the former Assistant Director were reimbursed for mileage at inflated rates, and the former Assistant Director failed to account for all advanced monies, submitted duplicate and altered receipts for meal expense reimbursements, and claimed reimbursement for excessive miles. The EMT class records and receipting procedures are also insufficient.
The County Commission held eight closed session meetings during the audit period but did not document the specific reasons for closing the meetings, as required by the Sunshine Laws.
Sheriff Controls and Procedures
Accounting duties are not adequately segregated, and a documented supervisory review is not conducted. The Sheriff’s office does not reconcile the list of liabilities to the cash balances of its two bank accounts, and several errors were not detected. Receipting and depositing procedures need improvement.
Public Administrator Controls and Procedures
The Public Administrator purchases gift cards from ward funds, but the procedures for tracking and documenting such purchases need to be improved. Moreover, it appears she makes such purchases in an attempt to keep wards’ cash balances below Medicaid eligibility levels, which is unlawful. The Public Administrator needs to improve her bank reconciliation procedures.
Prosecuting Attorney Controls and Procedures
As noted in our prior audit report, accounting duties are not adequately segregated and no supervisory review is conducted, and receipts are not deposited timely. The Prosecuting Attorney needs to establish adequate procedures for tracking, monitoring, and collecting court ordered restitution. Currently, restitution is manually recorded, and no system has been established to alert the clerk when payments are due or probation is about to end. Defendants are not required to sign restitution payment agreements, and restitution payments are not timely disbursed.
Support the Handicapped Board
The Support the Handicapped Board’s contract with the local sheltered workshop does not require the sheltered workshop to obtain bids, and the Board processed some payments to the sheltered workshop without adequate supporting documentation.
Because counties are managed by several separately-elected individuals, an audit finding made with respect to one office does not necessarily apply to the operations in another office. The overall rating assigned to the county is intended to reflect the performance of the county as a whole. It does not indicate the performance of any one elected official or county office.
In the areas audited, the overall performance of this entity was “poor”, which indicates this entity needs to significantly improve operations. The report contains numerous findings that require management’s immediate attention, and/or the entity has indicated most recommendations will not be implemented. In addition, if applicable, most prior recommendations have not been implemented.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009
Douglas County received a $17,379 Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant during the audit period: $16,079 funded a law enforcement position for 6 months, and $1,300 paid for equipment.
The “poor” rating given in this report covers only audited areas and does not reflect an opinion on the overall operation of the county, the auditor’s office noted.
To view the complete audit report, Citizens Summary and audit rating scale, visit http://www. auditor.mo.gov/press/2011-45.htm.