State Auditor: Cedar County overall performance ‘Fair’

Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

In an audit released earlier this year, the State Auditor’s office rated the overall performance of Cedar County as Fair.

The rating system the State Auditor uses is:

Excellent: The audit results indicate this entity is very well managed. The report contains no findings. In addition, if applicable, prior recommendations have been implemented.

Good: The audit results indicate this entity is well managed. The report contains few findings, and the entity has indicated most or all recommendations have already been, or will be, implemented. In addition, if applicable, many of the prior recommendations have been implemented.

Fair: The audit results indicate this entity needs to improve operations in several areas. The report contains several findings, or one or more findings that require management’s immediate attention, and/or the entity has indicated several recommendations will not be implemented. In addition, if applicable, several prior recommendations have not been implemented.

Poor: The audit results indicate 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.

County Disbursements

The county did not solicit bids when purchasing a patrol vehicle, and when it did solicit bids, the county did not always document why the low bid was not chosen or why it paid more than the accepted bid amount. The county did not select the low bidder for software and paid the vendor $2,300 more than the quoted price, and the county paid a dispatching equipment vendor $6,000 more than the bid amount. The county did not solicit proposals for legal services and did not obtain adequate documentation for $41,000 in legal fees paid during the audit period. The county did not document its evaluation and selection of architectural and engineering services related to the construction of a county law enforcement facility, and it is estimated these services will cost approximately $362,000. As noted in our prior audit report, the county lacks adequate procedures for monitoring fuel used by the Road and Bridge and Sheriff’s departments.

Recommendations

The County Commission:

1.1 Maintain adequate documentation of the bidding process and ensure bids are obtained in accordance with state law.

1.2 Require adequate documentation to support the cost of legal services and periodically solicit proposals for legal services.

1.3 Comply with state law when procuring architectural and engineering services and document the evaluation and selection process.

1.4 Establish procedures to effectively monitor fuel use, and reconcile use to purchases.

The County Commission provided the following written responses:

1.1 We will discuss these situations with the Assessor and Sheriff and ensure better documentation is maintained in the future.

1.2 In the future, we will ensure the attorney provides adequate billing documentation, and if there is a need for future legal services, we will consider soliciting proposals for these services.

1.3 While interviews were conducted and proposals were reviewed for engineering and architectural services for the new jail, better documentation should have been maintained.

1.4 We review road and bridge and Sheriff fuel usage monthly and have a camera installed to monitor the fuel tank. We will implement procedures to reconcile fuel used to fuel purchased.

County Collector’s Controls and Procedures

The County Collector failed to accurately calculate amounts withheld from tax collections for the Assessment Fund, and the Assessment Fund is due $57,000. The County Collector did not withhold approximately $4,800 in commissions on railroad and utility taxes, and this amount is due to the General Revenue Fund. The County Collector’s computerized property tax system does not provide adequate accountability of the numerical sequence of transaction numbers or prevent the editing of transaction dates.

Recommendations

The County Collector:

2.1 Ensure Assessment Fund withholdings are computed correctly in the future, review withholdings from past years, and disburse amounts owed to the Assessment Fund.

2.2 Ensure commissions are computed on railroad and utility taxes in the future and disburse amounts owed to the General Revenue Fund.

2.3 Work with the computer software vendor to ensure adequate controls are in place to allow for the proper accountability of all transaction numbers.

Auditee’s Response

The County Collector provided the following written responses:

2.1 The Collector’s office has fixed and verified that the Assessment Fund withholdings are now computed correctly. The program for the Collector’s office now reflects the correct assessment fees. The assessment fees due will be distributed to the Assessor in November 2012. The amounts due the Assessment Fund were calculated by the State Auditor’s office and were found correct.

2.2. To ensure the Collector’s commission and Assessor’s fee on the Railroad and Utility Funds are disbursed correctly, I have discussed this with the programmer and input those fees into the spreadsheet I currently use. The Railroad and Utility disbursements will be corrected for past years in November or December of 2012. The amounts due were calculated by the State Auditor’s office and were found correct.

2.3. The programmer has implemented a report that will be available for checking and controlling transaction numbers for all transactions done in the office. Also, better security has now been implemented over computerized transaction numbers.

Prosecuting Attorney’s Controls and Procedures

As noted in our prior audit report, accounting duties are not adequately segregated, and a documented supervisory review is not performed. Receipts are not always deposited timely, and manual receipt slips issued are not reconciled with monies posted to the computerized accounting system to ensure all monies received are properly recorded and deposited. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office does not always disburse restitution payments in accordance with the court’s instructions, and some payments were made to different victims than noted in court records.

Recommendations

The Prosecuting Attorney:

3.1 Adequately segregate accounting duties to the extent possible or ensure supervisory reviews of accounting records are performed and documented. Additionally, the Prosecuting Attorney should require a supervisory review and approval for all accounting adjustments.

3.2 Deposit all monies in a timely manner and reconcile manual receipt slips issued to the computerized accounting system.

3.3 Compare restitution case files with those maintained by the Circuit Court and resolve any differences.

Auditee’s Response

The Prosecuting Attorney provided the following written responses:

3.1 The Prosecuting Attorney has reviewed the bank statements each month. Since the audit has brought into question documentation of this review, the Prosecuting Attorney has been documenting his review by initialing and dating the reconciliation/review.

Only the Prosecuting Attorney has authority to disburse funds from the restitution trust account. Due to limited staffing, further segregation of documented duties is not possible at this time. However, documented supervisory review of other accounting records, including a documented review of adjustments made to the computer system will be accomplished in the future.

3.2 Cash is not collected in our office; however, the office is implementing measures to ensure deposits are made in a timelier manner. Also, one of the other full-time employees will be involved in the depositing procedures including the reconciling of the manual receipt slips to monies posted to the system.

3.3 We are aware that due to a defendant owing money in multiple cases these monies were disbursed incorrectly in at least one criminal case. We are working with the court to correct the situation. No money has been disbursed to those not owed restitution.

Sheriff’s Controls and Procedures

Accounting duties are not adequately segregated, and receipting and depositing procedures need improvement. The numerical sequence of receipt slip numbers is not accounted for properly, receipts are not reconciled to deposits, the method of payment is not always recorded, and monies are not always deposited timely. Monthly bank reconciliations have not been performed since June 2011, and liabilities are not identified and reconciled to the cash balance each month. Deposits are not recorded in the check register and a running cash balance is not maintained, so disbursement errors were not identified, and some bond receipts were not disbursed in a timely manner.

Recommendations

The Sheriff:

4.1 Adequately segregate accounting duties to the extent possible or ensure independent or supervisory reviews of accounting records are performed and documented.

4.2 Account for the numerical sequence of receipt slip numbers, retain all copies of voided receipt slips, record the composition of receipts and reconcile to deposits, and deposit all monies timely and issue checks to the court for bonds or obtain receipt slips from the court for bond monies transmitted.

4.3 Maintain a running cash balance, prepare monthly bank reconciliations, identify liabilities and reconcile to the cash balance, and retain all bank statements.

Auditee’s Response

The Sheriff provided the following written responses:

4.1 I am now reviewing the accounting records prepared by the office manager.

4.2 & 4.3 These recommendations have been implemented.

Sunshine Law

The county did not always document the vote for closing the meeting or cite the specific statute and subsection allowing the closure, and some topics discussed in closed meetings were not allowable.

Recommendation

The County Commission should ensure open meeting minutes document the reason and the corresponding vote for entering closed session and ensure items discussed in closed meetings comply with the Sunshine Law.

Auditee’s Response

The County Commission provided the following written response:

Meetings minutes now include reasons and corresponding votes for entering closed session. We believe we have complied with the Sunshine Law, but in the future, we will better document this.

Findings in the audit of Cedar County

Additional Comments

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.