Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

June 18, 2013

Audit panel reviews findings with state auditors

By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer

CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County's audit committee met with state auditors Tuesday to discuss findings in the offices of county trustee and assessor of property.

In the office of the Cumberland County Trustee it was stated, "Bank statements were not accurately reconciled with the general ledger. The trustee had attempted to reconcile the bank account monthly; however, the trustee did not identify all errors. Since errors were not identified and corrected, the bank account did not reconcile with the general ledger account by $52,828 at June 30, 2012. This deficiency is the result of management’s failure to correct the finding noted in the prior-year audit report."

Cumberland County Trustee Kim Wyatt said she had been working with auditors to determine where the mistakes were and all but $162 had been discovered.

However, Rodney Malin, state auditor, said the state was at a $2,000 figure that still had not been reconciled as of July 2012.

Auditors' recommendation in the state's report stated, "The trustee should reconcile the bank statements with the general ledger monthly and any errors identified should be corrected promptly."

Wyatt told the committee she was "very confident" the errors would be found and the bank statements would reconcile with the ledger at the end of this fiscal year.

"It could be anything, returned checks, insurance. We are looking at everything since 2010," Wyatt said.

"Once you find the $2,000 are you doing away with the manual system?" Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner and audit committee chairman asked.

"Yes, we will be on the new computerized system," Wyatt said.

"Once you go on that, then will the system keep it straight?" Dennis Hinch audit committee member asked.

"Yes and we are continuing to look," Wyatt said.

Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, asked, "So has not anything been looked at from July 2012 on?"

Wyatt and Malin said yes they have only looked up through July 2012, but were continuing to look.

Auditor Anita Scarlett said there were errors going back to day one and with a manual system it could take a long time to discover and reconcile any differences.

Malin said reconciliation in an office that large with a manual system is difficult because "once you are in the hole it can take a very long time to find where a simple error could be."

Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner, asked, "Is it in a number of accounts, or just one?"

Malin explained there are several accounts in the trustee's office and they were all OK except for the main account.

"The main account is the one with the problems," Malin said.

Both auditors said the trustee was following up with them and doing the right thing in working with them and trying to find where the errors might have occurred.

One such error was a double posting of one item in one ledger.

Wyatt said she would continue to follow up with Rimmer regarding the progress of the reconciliation via email so the audit committee would be aware of the progress.

In the office of assessor of property, auditors found "the assessor did not pick up and prorate new construction or improvements. Section 67-5-603, Tennessee Code Annotated, provides that for the year in which an improvement or building is completed, the assessment or increase in assessment shall be prorated for the portion of the year following the date of its completion. This deficiency can be attributed to the lack of management oversight resulting in new construction not being properly assessed and the potential loss of county tax revenue."

Auditors recommendation was, "The assessor should pick up and prorate new construction and improvements as required by statute."

David Simcox, assessor of property, responded to Rimmer with an email that said action had been taken.

Auditor Scarlett said the state's Department of Property Assessors forwards the information to them and it is included in the audit.

Simcox did not attend the meeting, but wrote via email that action was being taken.

The committee will meet again in the near future to continue discussions over findings of the 2011-'12 fiscal year. The committee will give a report to the full county commission after it completes reviewing the audit.