Audit reports findings in clerk’s office

Published 1:50 pm Thursday, January 11, 2018

State Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon has released the audit of the 2016 Bell County Clerk’s Fee Account.

An auditor report must communicate if the financial statement presents the receipts, disbursements, and excess fees of the Bell County Clerk in conjuncture with accounting principles accepted in the US. The auditor’s report noted that the clerk’s financial statement did not adhere to the accepted format. The audit report further stated that although it did not follow the aforementioned format, it states that the financial statement is presented in conformity with the regulatory basis of accounting.

The auditor of the Bell County Clerk’s office showed that the clerk spent fee receipts on disallowed disbursements. Debbie Gambrel, Bell County Clerk, “ made disallowed disbursements from the 2016 fee account for the purchase of four advertisements in local school sports programs and the local newspaper which totalled at $365. This was a repeat finding and was included in the prior year audit report.”

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The report states that the disbursements occurred before the clerk was aware what disbursements are allowable from the fee account. Due to this, excess fees due and paid to the fiscal court were underpaid by $365.

The law states that county fee officials’ expenditures of public funds will be allowed only of they are necessary, adequately documented, reasonable in amount, a benefit to the public and not primarily personal in nature.

The report noted that the auditor recommend the clerk reimburse the 2016 fee account of the $365 and then remit this amount to the Bell County Fiscal Court as additional excess fees.

Gambrel stated in the report, “We were not made aware that office money could not be spent on office advertisements to local school and events until after our 2015 audit exit on Nov. 29, 2016. At that time these errors had already been repeated in 2016. “

The clerk has reimbursed the 2016 General Office fee account $365 from her personal checking account for all disallowed office advertisement supporting local schools, boasters and events.

Another finding of the auditor was that the clerk’s fourth quarter report was materially misstated — meaning the fourth quarter report was not an accurate representation of the financial activity of the office for the calendar year 2016. Twenty one adjustments and reclassifications to the receipt ledger totaling $76,477 and 23 adjustments and reclassifications to the disbursements ledger were necessary totaling $118,692 to reconcile the clerk’s fourth quarter report for the 2016 fee account. These adjustments and reclassifications totalled to $195,169 — which is an amount material to the financial statements.

Gambrel stated in the report that due to lack of experience and training, the bookkeeper did not accurately post transactions to correct line items on the receipts and disbursement ledgers.

According to the report, the financial statements were not an accurate representation of the actual financial activity of the office for the calendar year of 2016. The payroll reports did not reconcile to the ledgers and the audited financial statement. Eight reclassifications totaling $52,221 were made in an effort to reconcile the audited financial statements. There was an irreconcilable difference of $,1090 between the total payroll and the audited financial statement.

“Our bookkeeper assigned receipts, disbursements and transferred to wrong line items and categories, not being familiar with coding. No money missing — bookkeeping error. Payroll in Jan. 2017 was taken out of 2016 bank account in error and had to be corrected and funds to be transferred from 2016 account to 2017 account to correct error. Bookkeeper and our software company will monitor closer, postings to receipts and disbursements ledgers. Bookkeeper will check all postings to ledger,” Gambrel stated in the report.