Missouri News

State auditor cites questionable practices in Pike County operations

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 4, 2017 9:10 am

BOWLING GREEN, Mo. -- The Missouri State Auditor's office found several questionable practices in an audit of Pike County's operations for the one-year period ending Dec. 31, 2016.

The report by Auditor Nicole Galloway -- released Thursday -- took issue with some accounting practices by the sheriff's department and the public administrator's office.

The report also was critical of the way sheriff's department employees accumulate comp time, the lack of control over county computers, and the way certain taxes are calculated and distributed to political entities.

Despite these concerns, Galloway's office rated the overall performance of the county as "good."

Galloway said this rating means the county is well managed, has relatively few operational issues and has indicated most of the auditor's recommendations have been, or will be, implemented.?The report was critical of several practices involving the sheriff's department. It said Sheriff Stephen Korte "has not adequately segregated accounting duties and does not perform adequate supervisory reviews" of accounting and bank records.

"Controls and procedures in the Sheriff's office need improvement," the report said.

For example, the report said "because adequate reconciliations have not been performed," accounting errors contributed to a $723 shortage in the inmate bank account.

"Performing adequate monthly bank reconciliations helps ensure accurate records are kept and increases the likelihood errors will be identified," the report said.

The report said the county's former public administrator, Nina Long, had not filed a "final settlement" for a deceased ward assigned to the administrator's office in 2008.

Long retired at the end of 2016 and was replaced by the current public administrator, Debby Tepen. The report said as of July 2017, the final settlement has still not been filed, and assets totaling $156,900 had not been distributed to the ward's heirs.

In response, Tepen said she has been trying to verify the assets in question and hopes to have the final settlement completed "soon" so the assets can be distributed.

The report cited County Collector Marty Morrison for delays in giving political subdivisions a portion of the $441,000 in tax payments paid in protest over a four-year period ending Dec. 31, 2016. The report said only a portion of the protested taxes should have been withheld, and the unprotested balance should have been distributed.

Morrison told auditors that in the future, the unprotested portion will be calculated and distributed to political subdivisions at the time of payment.

The report said several county officials have not established adequate controls over county computers -- mainly by not using a password-protected entry system or not having backups.

"As a result, county records are not adequately protected and are susceptible to unauthorized access or loss of data," the report said.

The report noted some sheriff's department employees have comp time balances in excess of the county's policy, which limits employee to no more than 80 hours of comp time. As of June, comp time balances for seven sheriff's department employees ranged from 113 to 492 hours.

The county commission responded that it is working with the sheriff "to find a workable solution to this issue," the report said.

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