Pickens Audit Made Public!

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The county’s transitional audit was completed and made public last week. Pickens County Sole Commissioner Robert Jones says the audit is standard practice when a county’s financial officer leaves a position. Pickens CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Mechelle Champion resigned on September seventh of this year. Her resignation, however, came on the heels of a $400,000 Young Life settlement, where the county is required to pay Young Life of Texas by January 15, 2013. In order to meet the deadline, Commissioner Jones raised the millage rate to 6.65. After receiving Champion’s resignation letter, Jones ordered an audit in September. R.L. Jennings in Ellijay completed the audit in late November.

The audit assessed accounting records from January 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012. According to the report, 10 out of 120 checks reviewed were problematic. Here, the report cites that on five separate occasions supporting invoices could not be found. Three checks were paid on invoices that showed no evidence of approval, while some credit card transactions lacked proper documentation to support charges on a significant portion of the audit’s test sampler. The report, however, verified that the expenses on the credit cards were proper expenditures for the county. Additionally, Jennings also discovered three credit cards that were not issued in accordance with county policy. “

Proper filing practices were not being practiced,”

the report stated.

In the managerial section, though, the report indicated that all the problematic checks were reconciled, if not initially filed properly.

For example, Jennings reported no indication of approval on an invoice for a $3,905.05 check to The Cincinnati Life Insurance Company. In its response, the county explained that the check was a payment of employee deduction amounts for life insurance, saying a copy of the invoice from Cincinnati Life for April 2012 and a reconciliation of the county’s payroll are attached to the check.

Jennings also reported no indication of approval for a $1,320 check to VALIC. The county responded by saying that the check was payment of employee deduction amounts for retirement, explaining that the e-remit contribution confirmation (invoice) from VALIC as well as the county’s payroll deduction report were attached to the check copy.

Additionally, the audit discovered some SPLOST expenditures were incorrectly recorded, citing that out of 154 checks, 73 were for expenditures reimbursable for SPLOST funds. In its response, the county explained that the expenditures in question pertained to road improvement projects, where the county used its own labor forces and equipment for the work.

“The auditors’ findings showed no misappropriation of SPLOST funds,”

the report confirmed.

In an email to FYN this week, Pickens CFO Faye Harvey confirmed that to date the county has been billed $15,000 for the audit, but has yet to receive its final bill.

Harvey left her position as CFO with Gilmer County in September. Gilmer County has yet to begin its audit.

See the full Pickens Audit below.


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