Officials see ‘guide for improvement’ in county audit

Published 2:54pm Friday, March 21, 2014

A recent state audit of Lincoln County found exceptions to some county financial procedures, but reflected “a guide for improvement for the future,” Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop said.

Released by the Office of the State Auditor this week, the audit covers Lincoln County financial statements for the year ending Sept. 30, 2012.

Among the findings of the state auditor’s office were:

• County audit reports for 2010 and 2011 were not published as required by law.

• Justice court judges, constables and assistant receiving clerks were not bonded for the proper amounts.

• Receipts were not being provided or properly maintained for the use of county credit cards.

• The board of supervisors paid $148,220 to a mail delivery service without a properly approved contract.

• Deposits of funds received by the chancery clerk’s office were not being made on a timely basis.

• The chancery clerk had not properly reimbursed the county for employee’s payroll.

Ordinarily, the county publishes audit reports in the paper. However, there are no records of reports for 2010 and 2011 in the Daily Leader.

“We have being going through a number of audits in recent years. Sometimes they overlap, or take longer than normal to complete. This can make publishing them in the paper on time difficult,” said Lincoln County Administrator David Fields, regarding the first item cited by the audit report.

“But, it’s been noted with the board and we will certainly use the audit results as a future guide,” Fields added.

Fields said a synopsis of the 2012 audit will be sent to the newspaper soon.

Despite using the mail delivery service for years, there was no official contract, Fields said. Since the audit, the county has stopped using the service. “We decided to take over mail delivery ourselves,” Fields said. “The problem with the contract was simple, none of us were aware of it. We received the service and paid for it. We just didn’t have an official contract, something we should have.”

Regarding the deposit of funds and payroll, Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop said, “One of the key items we will attempt to correct in the audit is to speed up our deposits, and to ensure our employees are paid in a timely manner. We take this very seriously.”

The county has already corrected the bonding issue, Bishop said.

Despite the exceptions, the report concluded, “In our opinion, Lincoln County, Miss., complied, in all material respects, with state laws governing central purchasing inventory and bid requirements for the year ended Sept. 30, 2012.”

The report also noted that the county selected the lowest vendor bids.

“The audit is dealing with millions and millions of dollars. I think this is important to note. It’s easy to take things out of perspective. We have complied with everything in the report. Overall, the audit is a very good one for the county,” Bishop said.

Fields agreed.

“Every audit has exceptions in them. When they are singled out, it can give a false impression. This year’s audit reflects moves in the right direction as well as items we could make improvements on,” Fields said.

In releasing the audit report, State Auditor Stacey Pickering said in a press release, “These audits are designed to identify and correct any financial and compliance issues found within the county. I thank Lincoln County for their cooperation during this audit.”