Findings from the biannual audit of Barry County were released last week by State Auditor Susan Montee's Office.
The 24-page report, covering 2008 and 2009, listed 10 different findings where the auditors identified weaknesses or problems with areas of county government accounting and management practices. The report also included the county's response to the findings, including steps local officials planned to take to fix the problem areas.
Several weaknesses were identified in the accounting controls and procedures in the Barry County Sheriff's Department. One of the issues resulted in the discovery of missing cash receipts.
According to the audit report, cash receipts of $675 were missing from the sheriff's office between Jan. 1 and June 24, 2009. The office administrator who served during that time period was terminated prior to the discovery of the missing money.
The current office administrator discovered the missing receipts and an investigation was conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, resulting in the arrest of the former office administrator on felony stealing charges. According to the audit report, "poor receipt controls and a lack of supervisory oversight placed funds at risk and resulted in the missing cash receipts."
In addition, the auditors noted that accounting duties are not adequately segregated and a supervisory review of the accounting records was not adequately performed. Weaknesses were also identified in receipting procedures for fees collected by the sheriff's office.
In response, Sheriff Mick Epperly indicated he was using part-time employees to help segregate accounting duties as much as possible and he had implemented a method to properly record all payments made to the sheriff's office. Bank reconciliations are also being conducted on a monthly basis.
The sheriff department's handling of inmate booking, prepaid phone cards and fuel credit cards was also criticized in the audit.
In particular, the audit pointed out that inventory records are not maintained for prepaid phone cards that are purchased in batches of 1,000 for $6 per card and sold to inmates for $10 per card.
The sheriff's department also has had difficulty monitoring use of fuel credit cards. A total of 63 fuel cards from three vendors were issued to the sheriff's office. Fuel use logs are not always maintained and reconciled with the credit cards.
"Ineffective reviews of fuel use and billings, along with the lack of accountability over active fuel cards, increases the possibility of loss, theft or misuse occurring and going undetected," the audit stated.
In response, the sheriff is now maintaining a record of inmate phone cards sold and the existing inventory. His office is also regularly reconciling fuel used to fuel purchased and tracking the assignment and use of all fuel credit cards.
Certain procedures of the Barry County Emergency Services Board, which falls under the jurisdiction of the County Commission, were also cited in the audit report.
In particular, the audit noted that the Emergency Services Board has approximately $424,000 of lease purchase proceeds that have not been disbursed and have been held in an escrow account since November 2008.
According to the audit, the board has not documented plans for use of these funds and has been paying 4.5 percent interest, or approximately $19,000 annually, on the borrowed funds.
The auditors recommended that the board evaluate the need for the escrowed funds and consider using them to pay down the principle amount of the lease purchase to avoid paying unnecessary interest costs.
In response to the audit, board members said they would look into the issue and communicate with the bank holding the Industrial Development Authority's commercial loan on the project to work out a favorable agreement.
For the second audit in a row, auditors discovered that the Barry County Commission is not maintaining minutes for its closed session meetings as required by Missouri's Sunshine Law. According to the audit, the county held several closed meetings during 2009 and 2010 without keeping a record of the discussions held during those meetings.
The auditors noted that closed meeting minutes should provide sufficient details of the discussions to demonstrate compliance with state law and support decisions made by the commission.
In response, the commission stated, "We will begin keeping closed meeting minutes indicating the purpose of the meeting."
A listing of other findings follow:
* The Emergency Services Board failed to reconcile quarterly payroll tax reports to year-end reports. Time sheets are not always signed by the employee or the employee's supervisor, and time sheets and leave records are not prepared by the director and assistant director. Emergency Service Board budgets did not include some information required by state law and financial statements were not published as required by state law.
* The Barry County Commission has not established adequate monitoring procedures to provide better assurance that the Southwest Drug Task Force is in compliance with federal grant requirements. The county commission does not perform a periodic review of task force controls and procedures and does not periodically request and receive detailed supporting documentation prior to approving grant reimbursement request forms.
* Personal property tax additions and abatements are not adequately monitored and approved. Neither the county commission nor the county clerk adequately reviews the activities of the county collector. Passwords for the property tax computer system are shared and not routinely changed.
* The Barry County Developmentally Disabled Board had accumulated a significant cash reserve of $757,000 as of Dec. 31, 2009, and did not document how these funds were to be spent for the benefit of the developmentally disabled. In addition, the open meeting do not always include sufficient detail of matters discussed or actions taken.
With each of the findings, the officials involved have implemented procedures and changes to correct the noted issues.