Commissioners review financial issues in audit

Today’s County Commissioners’ meeting covered a wide variety of issues, among them the annual audit done by Terry Sercer, CPA. Sercer said, “We need to make sure we have controls in place to make sure [the issue of missing monies] doesn’t happen again.”

Sercer highlighted several changes since last year’s audit, including bold headings for each section. One of these headings involved the county’s waive of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles,” which Sercer explained “many, if not most” entities waive because of the extra cost they incur in administrative work. According to Sercer, the current system is less time-consuming for the county, incurs fewer costs in administrative work for the county, and also is easier to understand than Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Sercer clarified once again that the Bourbon County records do follow Kansas statutes.

However, Sercer soon moved on to the issue of Stewardship Compliance, in which he found several issues. Sercer explained that there exist three funds that have negative cash. One, which is a grant fund, which Sercer said was exempt because of its status as having been grant-funded. The other two, however, are the 911 Telephone Fund and the Special Alcohol and Drug Fund.

After a conversation with the commissioners, Sercer and County Clerk Kendell Mason determined that the monies that the county remits to the city’s 911 Telephone Fund were being sent directly to the city while the county continued to remit money, causing an unexpected change in the county’s budget. Mason said, “I haven’t seen any [money from the telephone company] this year at all.” Sercer remarked that there had been no change in the law that requires that the county receive the money first, then distribute it. Sercer thought that perhaps when the situation was explained to the city, they would be willing to reimburse the county, and recommended that the county keep a closer eye on these expenditures. “That’s a change we need to make,” said Commission Chairman Warren. Warren said that commissioners occasionally check these reports, but that he would like to make this a monthly practice.

Sercer then addressed the deficit in the Special Alcohol and Drug Fund. As Sercer explained to the commission, the county has a mill levy of “0.03 mil” to fund special alcohol programs. Sercer said that the state also collects a tax on alcohol and distributes a portion of it to Kansas counties. In the case of Bourbon County, the money, according to Mason, is split among the County General Fund, Special Parks Fund and the Special Alcohol and Drug Fund. Sercer informed the commission that the amount budgeted for the Special Alcohol and Drug Fund had been $2,400, but that the county gave out $15 more than they had budgeted.

One last item addressed by Sercer involved internal control over finances. “There were deficiencies in internal control,” Sercer said. Sercer explained that statutes 1205A and KSA 19716 were violated in the past year. Accorder to Sercer, two checks totaling $3,000 were written to a former employee that were not properly approved or claimed. “Before you transfer money into the clerk’s payable account, make sure there’s a signed register for it,” Sercer said.

Another problem Sercer highlighted involved credit card usage by a county employee. “Credit cards are a problem everywhere, ” Sercer said. “It happens everywhere–I understand that.” Sercer indicated that the county had kept very good records in the recent past. “You’ve always had, for the most part, bills and invoices to support the charges,” Sercer said. Sercer indicated that this practice had faltered in June of 2012, and said that the undocumented charges for credit cards are being examined by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). Sercer suggested that in the case of an employee’s consistent misuse of credit cards, that employee should be required to make those purchases for themselves. Sercer indicated that he suspected the stop in these well-kept records occurred as a result of credit card use by an employee whose matters were to be discussed in the upcoming executive session.

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