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Taney County Receives "Poor" Rating on State Audit

FORSYTH, Mo. - The audit is the first conducted by the state for Taney County in more than ten years, and finds nearly 50 areas that need improvement.

FORSYTH, Mo.-- The management of funds in Taney County is "poor" according to the State Auditor's Office.

The audit is the first conducted by the state for Taney County in more than ten years, and found nearly 50 areas that need improvement.

"Hopefully the public perception is good, because we requested the audit," said Taney County Presiding Commissioner Ron Houseman, referring to the dozens of residents who attended a public meeting Tuesday night inside the Forsyth High School gym.

The "poor" rating is the lowest out of a possible four that can be given to a county following an audit.

Commissioner Houseman said he expected the low rating.

"There are a number of polices with in the county system that we need direction on," said Houseman, "There are a number of county policies that we can do better, handle better, checks and balances system that have got out of key."

State Auditor Thomas Schweich said many of the issues may stem from the fact that Taney County is one of the wealthiest counties in the state.

"I often find when there's a lot of money, the accounting controls are kind of lax," said Schweich.  "We can move money from here to there, we'll always have the money.  But that creates opportunities for all kinds of mischief.  Or maybe there's hard times or an economic downturn, and you don't have the money you thought you had."

The state gave recommendations for 48 separate issues, stretching across all county offices.  Issues like a new property tax technology system, that the county paid nearly $300,000 for but isn't being fully utilized.

Other issues: not having a separate account for the ½ cent sales tax monies, that have generated over $6 million for road and bridge improvements.

Over-budgeting by millions of dollars.

Not doing background checks on employees with access to sensitive information.

A formatting error that gave the wrong schools property tax funds - some of which are either receiving, or not receiving, tens of thousands of dollars.

Schweich said the issue that affects nearly all offices, is a lack of oversight for the people who handle money.

"The good news was, unlike in other counties, we didn't find anyone stealing money," said the state auditor.   "But what we saw were controls that were loose enough if, somebody wanted to, they could."

"For the recommendations made, the County commissioners are going to come into compliance," said Houseman, "and we're going to work hand-in-hand with other elected officials and hopefully all of us will come into compliance."

The State Auditor's office will follow up with Taney County to see what progress has been made in the next 90-120 days.

 




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