When you are audited, it can give you an insight into how you are doing fiscally. On the other side of the coin, it can reveal things you didn’t know. A Pike County woman, Amber McKee, is accused of mishandling money in her job at Pike County Job and Family Services and the Auditor also pokes holes in the 2015 Pike County audit.
On Tuesday, April 4, State auditors issued a finding for recovery against McKee after determining that child-support payments totaling $1,280 were handled improperly, according to the office of Auditor of State Dave Yost.
The financial audit for 2015 determined that Amber McKee wrote receipts for six child-support payments that were received in cash, but the payments were not recorded in the county’s financial-management system and the money was not deposited in the bank.
“In government agencies and in private businesses, internal controls over money transfers are vital to minimize the opportunity for error, loss and theft,” Yost said.
In a response from Pike County officials, it was determined that as a result of the audit, the director of Pike County Job and Family Services has improved internal controls.
In addition to the reported mishandling of child-support payments, the audit also identified a number of inaccuracies in Pike County’s accounting and financial reporting. Several general fund accounts contained understatements totaling nearly $405,000. A sewer fund balance was found to be inflated by $228,005, and a 2015 pension-liability calculation was more than $1.5 million lower than it should have been.
Yost said the county told them they believe a new accounting system will eliminate such errors.
The audit also discovered that the county used federal funds intended for fire departments to buy equipment for the Pike County Sheriff’s Office and two local police departments. The audit has resulted in the county being advised to return a total of about $77,000. County officials said they will better monitor eligibility criteria to ensure that federal money is spent as intended.
The Daily Times talked with Pike County Auditor Erica Snodgrass who did not take office until March 9, 2015, mid-period.
“A majority of the findings are findings that were in the works for years and years and years. These are actually findings that I brought to the Auditor’s (of State) attention,” Snodgrass said. “I want them listed in the audit. I’ve asked them to list them in the audit. A majority of the audit’s findings, as County Auditor, I can’t fix. It’s not within my power to fix them. It’s other elected officials. One think I think is important to note is that the management of the county falls on the elected officials. All of us share equally in that. It’s up to all of us to ensure proper financial reporting and financial tracking.”
Snodgrass said whenever things are submitted to her office for reporting purposes, and she books them a certain way, if it’s incorrect coming in the door, it’s going to be incorrect going out the door.
She said the majority of the findings in the audit are things that have been occurring for years.
“I expect the audits in the next couple of years to exhibit some of the same findings and even more, because I will be pushing to clean the county up,” Snodgrass said. “The only way I can get that done is by letting the auditors know there’s issues where there’s issues.”
How do you fix it?
“The public votes people into office that are honest and that are accountable to their job and they want to do a good job. They want to serve the public,” Snodgrass said. “We shouldn’t be career politicians. That’s not what it is about. You go in and you do what you say you’re going to do and get your job done, and you leave it for the next person to come in and do their job.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewisPDT.