Review gives county a rating of “fair”; recommends better oversight of property tax system, questions use of tax maintenance fund
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo (Oct. 4, 2018) Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway today released an audit of Laclede County, which recommended improvements to several county offices to ensure the effective use of taxpayer dollars. The regularly-scheduled audit of the government of Laclede County, located in south central Missouri, received an overall rating of fair.
“This report highlights the need for improved processes in several county offices to reduce the risk of errors and make sure any miscalculations are detected quickly,” Auditor Galloway said. “Laclede County officials can use the recommendations in this report to ensure better oversight and effective use of public resources.”
The audit recommended improvements in oversight when changes are made in the property tax system. Refunds of overpayments were not always properly recorded and reductions in assessed valuations did not consistently go through the appropriate process. The audit recommended checks and balances be implemented to reduce the risk of errors.
The report also found questionable use of the county’s Tax Maintenance Fund. Under state law, the fund is for administrative or operational costs related to the County Collector’s office. Work by auditors revealed the County Collector purchased four computers for $1,900 and later gave the computers to other county offices. Those offices did not reimburse the fund for the cost of those computers. A $2,000 security system was also purchased with these funds, and even though other offices benefited from the system, those costs were not allocated among the other offices.
Additional findings of the audit:
The Sheriff’s Office needs to improve controls and procedures; the audit found money collected from inmates was not deposited timely, resulting in substantial cash accumulating in the kiosks; fees for serving civil papers were being improperly charged; and the evidence log of seized property was not accurately maintained.
Errors were identified in the way the county collector calculated distributions of certain penalties. As a result, the County Employee’s Retirement Fund received approximately $14,000 less than it should have and the Tax Maintenance Fund and the General Revenue Fund received approximately $7,000 more than they should have.
The audit found several county offices were not required to change the passwords on their computers on a regular basis. Requiring passwords to change periodically reduces the risk of unauthorized access or loss of data.
The complete audit report of Laclede County, including the recommendations of the auditor and the responses from the county, is here.