Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

April 30, 2014

Panel says make no changes

CROSSVILLE — The Cumberland County audit committee voted unanimously to make no changes in two county departments where state auditors recommended each employee be assigned their own cash drawer.

The audit committee met with auditors from the State Comptroller's Office last week to review findings of the county's 2012-'13 fiscal year audit.

Both the office of the Clerk and Master and Register of Deeds were marked for internal control as a "significant deficiency under government auditing standards" for having multiple employees in the department using the same cash drawer.

However, there have been no losses or cash shortage issues in either department office in decades.

"Good internal controls dictate that each employee have their own cash drawer, start the day with a standard fixed amount of cash and remove all but that beginning amount at the end of the day. This amount should be verified to the employee's receipts at the end of each day. Failure to adhere to this control regimen greatly increases the risk that a cash shortage may not be detected in a timely manner. Furthermore, in the event of a cash shortage, the official would not be able to determine who was responsible for the shortage because multiple employees were working from one cash drawer. This deficiency has been a management decision by the official resulting in a loss of control over assets and management's failure to correct the finding noted in the prior year's audit report," the audit report states.

"We've been operating the same way with the same procedures for 30 years and haven't had one problem. It's never been an issue with the auditors until last year," Sue Tollett, clerk and master, said.

Tollett explained it would require at least $3,000 to $4,000 to put cash drawers in at each work station in the Clerk and Master's office.

"We keep $300 in the drawer. It would slow the process of closing because there would be six drawers to close out (instead of one) and it would increase our liability from $300 to $1,800 because it would be more drawers with more cash. If the committee recommends it, I will change it. But it would be an added expense to the county," Tollett said.

Tollett said she thought it had become an issue because there have been cases in other governmental offices in other county's in the state.

Carl Lowe, audit manager with the Tennessee State Comptroller's office said, "It's a matter of accountability to each person. This is a textbook type control issue."

Anita Scarlett, auditor with the Tennessee State Comptroller's office, said, "There have been multiple (theft) cases across the state and it's hampering the (prosecution) process with multiple people using the same drawer."

"I don't see a problem with it," said Dennis Hinch, audit committee member.

"I agree," said Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner and audit committee member. "And with all due respect, it's not our job to make it easier for prosecution. Not everybody in that office is dealing with money all day long like in a bank or Wal-Mart. There's never been any money missing in 32 years."

Sabine then moved to make no changes in the operation of the Clerk and Master's office.

Hinch supported the motion and it was approved unanimously.

Register of Deeds Judy Graham Swallows had the same findings for her office and also said they have been operating the same way for decades with no money ever missing.

"We always balance every day," Swallows said.

Hinch moved to make no changes in the operation of the Register of Deeds office. Jan McNeil, 5th District commissioner and audit committee member, supported the motion and it was unanimously approved.

Other members of the audit committee include Glenn Harper and Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner.

After reviewing the audit with the state comptroller's auditors, the audit committee will give a report with its recommendations to the Cumberland County Commission.

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