State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of Clinton County, located in northwest Missouri. In giving an overall rating of "poor," the report highlighted the weak financial condition of the General Revenue Fund, the County Commission's failure to perform a cost analysis before implementing a self-insured medical plan, and the need to improve controls and procedures in several county offices.
"If the deficiencies detailed in this audit are not addressed, the county's weak financial condition could jeopardize the delivery of essential services to citizens," Auditor Galloway said. "I encourage county officials to quickly move forward with the recommendations, in order to ensure that taxpayer resources are protected and accounted for."
The audit found the cash balance of the county's General Revenue Fund went from $512,000 at the end of 2016 to a projected balance of only $264 at the end of 2018. In 2017, expenditures for the Sheriff's office and jail increased significantly, and a delay in mailing property tax statements resulted in a delay in property tax collections. County disbursements were significantly greater than receipts in 2017, and there would have been a deficit cash balance had the county not transferred $103,000 from the Emergency Management Fund.
These problems have meant cash balances of the General Revenue Fund are not sufficient to handle any emergencies or sudden downturn in the economy, Auditor Galloway said. The audit recommended that the County Commission closely monitor the county's financial condition and determine whether operating revenues can sustain the county's financial commitments.
Another area of concern cited in the audit was the commission's implementation of the self-insured medical plan in January 2017 without a cost analysis to project the potential liability to the county, calculate the premiums, determine the reserve balance necessary to meet potential obligations, or determine the financial feasibility of the plan.
While the medical plan had a surplus balance at the end of 2017, expenditures through the first nine months of 2018 were more than fifty percent higher than revenues over the same period of time. Again, the county had to make transfers from the Emergency Management Fund to prevent a deficit. The audit recommended the commission prepare a cost analysis for the self-insured medical plan in order to ensure its solvency.
In other findings of the audit, the County Collector has not prepared and filed the legally required annual settlement for three consecutive years. The annual settlements help the County Clerk ensure that taxes charged and credited to the County Collector are accounted for properly. The audit also found the County Collector has not properly distributed late payment penalties on delinquent city taxes.
The county needs to establish adequate controls and procedures for the disposition of capital assets. In one instance, the former County Assessor disposed of a county vehicle by selling it to an employee of his office for approximately one-fourth of its value.
The audit also found the county needed to improve controls related to disbursements made by the Sheriff's office, including maintaining adequate documentation on credit card expenses. Weaknesses in controls and procedures in the offices of the Sheriff and the Prosecuting Attorney were noted, including the need to prepare adequate bank reconciliations.
A complete copy of the audit report can be found here.