State: County office must change money practices

Published 10:53 am Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Office of the State Auditor is recommending the Mower County auditor-treasurer’s office do more to protect county funds.

The state office filed a report last week after an investigation into a $500 cash shortage discovered in the auditor-treasurer’s office on Oct. 11, 2012.

During a daily balancing procedure, county staff found $500 missing. After a review, Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh concluded his office produced a receipt, but “did not collect funds from a taxpayer,” according to the report.

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The report states Groh then balanced the shortage out of his office’s $2,000 change fund. The county reported the loss to law enforcement Nov. 26, 2012, and to the Office of the State Auditor on Nov. 27, 2012.

The state found the county’s auditor-treasurer’s office did not have written cash handling procedures at the time of the incident, but daily balancing typically took place around 2 p.m. each day.

The balancing process included checking the collected cash and checks with the receipts in the cash register. If the collected amount didn’t match the receipts, money was taken from the auditor-treasurer’s change fund to balance the amounts. Thus, no shortages or overages were reported on balancing forms before a daily deposit was made, according to the report.

No further balancing procedures were performed at the end of the day or when the office opened the next day last October, according to the report.

The Office of the State Auditor found there were 26 cash transactions totaling $10,302 on Oct. 10 and 11, 2012, but none were for exactly $500 and six were for more than $500.

The Office of the State Auditor recommended the county install new procedures to verify the money collected and receipts each day and that the money be counted again each morning.

The state also recommended the $2,000 change fund — which had a balance of $1,414 on March 19 — be replenished and that someone count the funds once a week. The state also urged the change fund only be used for making change.

“The change fund should be used only for making change,” the report reads. “It should not be used to balance deposits.”

The state also recommended the amount of overages and shortages be documented on daily balancing reports, and that significant discrepancies be investigated immediately.

County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said the report will be reviewed by the county’s finance committee and could go before the county board at an upcoming meeting.