County rebounds from bad audit

Published 8:32 pm Friday, March 18, 2016

The county is well on its way to correcting problems found during a 2015 audit.

Twelve of the 13 audit findings have already been fixed and approved by the Local Government Commission, the state agency that monitors and analyzes the fiscal and accounting practices of all local governments, according to Anita Radcliffe, Beaufort County’s chief finance officer.

Radcliffe updated the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners in its regularly scheduled meeting on March 7, and explained how each finding has been corrected.

The only outstanding issue is reconciliation of county checks with monthly statements, which the finance department is on course to complete by May 31, before the next audit, Radcliffe said.

“The problem is if you even get behind on them — that’s what occurred — once you get behind, it’s very difficult to get caught up,” said County Manager Brian Alligood.

“If you think about it, there are thousands of checks coming out of here. … It’s like reconciling your checkbook, but on a tremendously massive scale.”

Another of the audit findings pointed out errors in paying county vendors within the required three business days, Radcliffe said. As a fix, the county has moved to a reimbursement schedule, in which the county will go ahead and pay vendors, then draw down on state funds.

Others findings included noncompliance in monitoring the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) through Department of Social Services and home aide costs improperly recorded due to a spreadsheet error, which Radcliffe said was a reporting error and did not cause the county to lose out on any funding.

The county has also instituted formal credit card and conflict of interest policies, as well as resolved inconsistent travel reimbursement — some departments were using older forms that reimbursed at 1- to 2-cent lower rates.

Alligood said the problems with the county practices weren’t deliberate, but were largely the result of employee overturn over the last several years.

“With all of the transition that has gone in the upper management levels of the county, there have been some things that had been missed during some of those transitions,” Alligood said. “It shouldn’t happen, but unfortunately it does when you have a changeover of a lot of people.

“(The findings) have been identified, and they’ve been corrected,” Alligood said.