Our opinion: Count on changePublished 10:32am Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Minnesota State Auditor’s office recently took the Mower County auditor-treasurer’s office to task for lax accounting practices after county employees lost $500 last October, then tried to cover the loss through a change fund, which was never replenished. While the county should be commended for stepping forward to report the loss, we urge the county board of commissioners to follow the state’s suggested changes by implementing a formalized cash-handling approach and discontinuing use of the change fund to cover losses.
County employees found they were $500 short on Oct. 11, 2012, while performing a daily money balancing check.
The state report found county employees conducted 26 transactions on Oct. 10 and 11, but none matching the $500 that employees discovered missing on Oct. 11.
That $500 could go missing when there were no transactions matching that amount is concerning, but the fact county employees covered the loss via a change fund is worse. The county has cash procedure guidelines, but the state report found the county doesn’t have written cash handling policies.
This is a concern, as taxpayers deserve to know where their money is at all times.
Some businesses do fine with loose cash handling policies, but the county answers to its citizens. Any cash overage or deficit needs to be recorded accordingly, as the state report points out.
The state has urged the county to enact more money checks throughout the day, as well as to adhere to policies concerning the auditor/treasurer’s office change fund. We agree with the state’s opinion, as more checks and honest reporting gives citizens a better picture of county governance.
We are pleased Mower County took the initiative to report the loss, but we would urge county employees and leaders to adhere to the state’s recommendations, in order to keep the county accountable and transparent to its residents.