Harmon releases BCSO fee account audit

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Bell County Sheriff’s Office received a clean audit on the fee account Monday with State Auditor Mike Harmon noting only three instances of material weaknesses. The auditor said the financial statement is fairly presented in conformity with the regulatory basis of accounting.

According to the press release, the office overspent the amount fixed by the fiscal court for official expenses. The auditor said this is a repeat finding and was included in the prior year audit report.

The fiscal court had approved budgeted expenditures totaling $9,600. The fiscal court passed a resolution on June 13, 2017 authorizing the sheriff’s office to spend $3,000 per month for allowable expenditure. The sheriff’s actual disbursements for 2017 totaled $19,086, according to the press release.

The release states the sheriff did not amend his original budget to include any additional amounts spent as a result of the resolution passed by the fiscal court.

Sheriff Mitch Williams responded to the claim stating he was unaware that he should amend his approved budget to include any additional expenditures.

Harmon recommended Williams ensure that official expenses are within the amount fixed by the fiscal court, monitor his budget and, if necessary, submit budget amendments to the fiscal court for approval by year-end.

“This is a learning process for a new bookkeeper as she was unaware of the capability to amend budgets already set into place. This has been corrected for the 2018 fiscal year,” said Williams in the release. “A large portion of the overage on expenditures was a payment to the United States Postal Service. The sheriff’s office now uses a postage permit, which saved the county over $3,000 on postage. Although this was not budgeted for the 2017 fiscal year, it has since been corrected for the 2018 year.”

The auditor also noted the sheriff’s office did not prepare accurate receipts and disbursements ledgers due to their use of Microsoft Excel. Williams said the office has purchased QuickBooks accounting software to correct the problem.

The third material weakness discussed was the lack of adequate segregation of duties over receipts, disbursements and reconciliation. Williams said he cannot hire additional employees to allow segregation of duties due to budget limitations.

Harmon recommended the sheriff separate the duties over receipts, disbursements and reconciliations or provide strong oversight over the duties.

“Upon advisement to separate the duties of receipts, disbursements and reconciliations, we have implemented that a designated person will place their signature on any checkout sheet to provide knowledge that they reviewed what receipts and money were being deposited that day,” said Williams. “We will continue to correct this particular area.”