After months of requests, the county commissioners hope that they’ve put the financial questions regarding county financial dealings to a rest. Concerned citizens and two grand juries have been wondering where an estimated $5 million has gone over the past years.
Without specific questions from the grand juries asking for forensic audits, Commissioners Becky Denney and Jerry Barnes decided that a historical review was the right decision for the time being. Commission Chairman Rob Jones had previously removed himself from the decision-making process as for a number of those years he was the sole commissioner and didn’t want to affect the outcome or seem to have any undue influence on the effort.
Denney stated they considered the requests but chose to proceed with a historic review instead.
“We simply did not think that it would be wise to spend the county's money on a forensic audit for several reasons. First, a forensic audit is usually followed by a regular audit that has found something suspicious. That was not the case. Also, we were trying to save money & build up our fund balance rather than spend money,”
One of those concerned citizens expressed his support of the commissioners back in September when these questions once again surfaced at a board meeting. Gary Copeland said,
“I don’t much defend you but this time I will. This is the second time it’s come around and you didn’t cause all this, you inherited a lot of this. It’s not fair to you Rob, or to these other two commissioners. It’s time to put this to rest.”
With independent auditors completing yearly audits and various companies involved in that process, any mistakes, oversights or gross misalignments should’ve been ticked off for that year or at least in subsequent years. No such discrepancies cropped up so the historical review seemed to be the only fiscally responsible way to give an overview without a specified direction to follow.
Chief Financial Officer Faye Harvey and Jason Segers (Harvey's assistant) presented their findings at Thursday’s commission meeting. The report covered from 2004 through 2012. It appeared the country-wide financial woes of the past few years affected the budgets as well as some departmental budget overages.
Unable to control the trends in economics, Commissioner Rob Jones stated he intends to address those areas they can control locally by inviting all elected officials to planning sessions to comprise a design for the future. Those meetings will be held in conjunction with their regular department head meeting held the second Monday monthly.
“(It will be) to plan for a vision for Pickens County for the financial future to where everybody’s on-board with this thing, not just a small group of individuals,”
Denney summed up the months-long process stating,
"I am very pleased with the historical financial report that was compiled by our CFO. I feel that it is always important to look back & learn from your our past. However, there comes a time when we need to move forward & look toward the future with hope & optimism. Now is that time!"
The historical report may be viewed at the Pickens County website at: