For the fifth consecutive year, Antelope County has received a critical audit report from the Nebraska State Auditor’s office.
An Auditor of Public Accounts report was posted to the state auditor’s website Nov. 5 and signed by Assistant Deputy Auditor Deann Haeffner. Haeffner said a letter was issued to the county commissioners, dated Oct. 22, however no response was received.
The county sheriff’s department and county attorney's office were named explicitly in the report, as well as the county commissioners.
According to the audit, multiple issues regarding the county attorney’s accounting procedures were found including failure to comply with the county commissioners orders to foreclose on eight properties due to non-payment of taxes.
On May 8, commissioners directed County Attorney Joe Abler to foreclose on the eight parcels in which taxes were delinquent for three or more years.
During the audit, it was discovered Abler did not foreclose on the parcels.
The report cited Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-1918 (Reissue 2009) which states the following; "It shall be the duty of the county board, at its first meeting held after the making of such report, to carefully examine the same, and while it may direct the issuance of tax sale certificates to the county upon any real property upon which there are any delinquent taxes, it shall, as to all real property upon which taxes are delinquent for three or more years, either enter an order directing the foreclosure of the lien of such taxes...or enter an order for the county treasurer to issue tax sale certificates to the county covering the delinquent taxes upon such real property, to be foreclosed upon in the manner and at the time provided in sections 77-1901 to 77-1918.
The county board shall have authority to direct the county attorney to commence foreclosure of such liens or certificates. Any county treasurer, county attorney or member of the county board who willfully fails, neglects, or refuses to perform the duties imposed by such sections shall be guilty of official misdemeanor and subject to removal from office."
The auditor's office recommended the county attorney implement procedures to ensure compliance with the county board's directive to foreclose on any real property for delinquent taxes, as required by state statute.
Accounting and petty cash deficiencies in the county attorney's office included:
~ Monthly bank reconciliations not performed. On June 30, an unknown shortage of $641 was discovered. Two checks were deposited for restitution totaling $184, that did not clear the bank, however, checks had already been issued for restitution to the vendors
~Money, including county and trust collections, were not remitted to the county treasurer or disbursed to the proper individuals in a timely manner
~Multiple receipts from the Safety Training Option Program were deposited into the bank account throughout the year, however only one disbursement, totaling $775, was made to the county treasurer
~Interest earned on the petty cash account, totaling $36 for fiscal year 2018, had not been properly remitted to the county treasurer
~An accurate book balance was unable to be determined, as receipts are not issued each time money is collected
~Petty cash fund claims, totaling $140, were not claimed to the county board for reimbursement within 90 days
The auditor's office recommended the county attorney implement procedures to ensure money received is deposited, remitted to the county treasurer or disbursed to the proper individuals in a timely manner, receipts are issued for all monies received, checks are written after deposits clear the bank, reconciliations are performed on a monthly basis and claims are filed with the county clerk within 90 days as required by state statute.
Discrepancies found in the sheriff's office include:
~An unexplained cash long of $4,048 on June 30
~Some civil process fees were not remitted to the county
~Accounts receivable, totaling $4,211, dating back to 2010, remain uncollected
~$52 withdrawn from the sheriff's bank account for the purchase of new checks were not submitted to the county board
~Fee collections not remitted to the county in a timely fashion
~Fees totaling $3,900 were not submitted to the county by September 20, 2018. Those fees included work release from September through December 2016 in the amount of $2,500; DARE donation, from September through October 2016 and April 2017 in the amount of $200 and Social Security Incentive throughout the fiscal year in the amount of $1,200
~Detailed inmate balances could not be provided, nor was there documentation of cash-on-hand in the office as of June 30, 2018
~The bank account holding commissary funds was not properly reconciled each month, resulting in a negative balance and $8 in overdraft fees
~Expenses incurred by the county sheriff were not filed with the county clerk within 90 days
~Petty cash was not reconciled to the authorized amount during the fiscal year. Expenses of $19 were not properly claimed
~$14 was spent on holiday cards from the petty cash fund, which is not a reasonable petty cash expense
~During a surprise cash count of the petty cash, the fund was $43 short.
The auditor recommended procedures be implemented to ensure office assets are in agreement with liabilities, money collected is remitted to the county, accounts receivable are actively pursued, bank charges are claimed for timely reimbursement, inmate balances and other office funds are documented, bank balances are reviewed to ensure no overdraft fees, public funds are not expensed improperly, claims are filed within 90 days and the petty cash fund is reconciled.
The county board overall was cited for fees not approved or different than those approved, including several in the sheriff's office and hay inspection tags by the county weed superintendent.
The state auditor's office recommended the county commissioners review and approve fees and document such approval.
The fiscal year ending June 30, 2018 management letter and APA report for Antelope County can be found here