State audit recommends improved oversight, operations of Camden County government

CAMDENTON, Mo. -- UPDATE: 5:42 p.m.

A comprehensive audit that began in January 2018 at the request of Camden County commissioners was released by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway on August 22, 2019.

"It had been 25 years, approximately since we had a comprehensive audit of Camden County," Camden County Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty said Thursday.

It's one of the reasons why county commissioners requested the state do perform an audit on it's governmental procedures in 2017.

Now, 19 months after it started, the audit's 34 page report details several procedures county departments need to improve on.

Hasty says they've always sought competitive bids, "but, the proper documentation was not there to show that took place."

Galloway also writes in the report the county needs to better improve its purchasing and reimbursement policies. The report says the county needs to document the review and approval of any invoice paid, and any reimbursement paid to an employee for purchases. Also, employees across many department shared logins to the current system, which the auditor warns against.

Hasty says that's in the process of being fixed with a new software that all departments will use by the end of the year.

"The implementation of this new software system is going to integrate all that stuff and put us in a position where 85 to 90% of the checks and balances that we need to have will be built into the system," Hasty said. "Beyond that, the next thing that we need is just simply written policies and procedures for things like credit cards."

The new software was budgeted for in 2018 and cost the county about $300,000.

The audit also says the county clerk didn't have a proper way of keeping track of Sunshine Requests made by the public.

"We were taking the Sunshine requests and writing everything on it. The day they requested it, when they would get it, and how much it was going to be," said Camden County Clerk, Rowland Todd. "They just didn't care for that way of doing it."

Now, the clerk's office uses a spreadsheet, as recommended by the audit.

The report also says some receipt transactions from the County Collector's office had been deleted, a red flag for possible fraud or an employee stealing money.

Galloway's audit does not find any evidence of fraud.

"I'm very thankful no money came up missing or nothing big like that," Todd added.

Now, county government officials say they're glad to know what they need to work on to keep the trust of the public.

"Now that we know what's wrong, we're going to make the effort, and we're going to get it fixed," Hasty added.

ORIGINAL STORY: 8/22/19, 11:00 a.m.: Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway says her office has determined Camden County lacks oversight and fails to follow policies to ensure efficient use of taxpayer dollars. This announcement comes after a comprehensive audit of the county government started in January 2018.

The audit was requested by the Camden County Commission in 2017 after what some commissioners called "eight years of controversy." It's the first comprehensive state audit performed on the county's governmental operations since 1994, before the county received its "first class county" designation in 1997.

Galloway's audit recommends Camden County improve its reimbursement processes and do a "better job of following policies related to purchasing." Galloway's office says that includes making sure the county performs a documented review and approval when the county pays invoices or reimburses employees for purchases. The audit also recommends more consistent oversight of credit card purchases and usage

The comprehensive audit also finds the county did not always solicit bids for purchases over $6,000 as required by state law.

It also finds the county lacks adequate procedures to account for fuel used by county departments and fuel purchases with credit cards.

Galloway's audit showed the county did not always follow personnel policies or update policies when procedures change. The audit says "the county commission has not adequately segregated payroll duties and no one performs an independent or supervisory review of detailed payroll records." It also says the County Clerk did not keep documentation of approved pay rates or changes to pay rates in employee personnel files.

Aside from the County Commissioner's Office, there are nine other county department the audit shows needs improvement when it comes to accounting practices. Those departments are the sheriff's office, prosecuting attorney's office, Wastewater Department, Planing and Zoning, the Public Administrator's office, Recorder of Deed's office, the County Clerk's Office, the Geographic Information System department, and the Senior Citizens' Services Tax Fund Board.

The audit recommends the county improve on its Sunshine Law compliance. It says the county clerk does not maintain a log of public record requests to ensure all requests are handled in compliance with state law. It also says the county commission does not ensure minutes of all meetings are prepared, approved, and posted to the county website in a timely manner.

The comprehensive audit of Camden County was given a "fair" rating by Galloway's office.

Galloway's office also completed an audit of the Camden County Collector and Property Tax System. That audit found "significant weaknesses with the computerized property tax system. The State Auditor's Office says user access was not properly restricted to the property tax system, which allowed multiple office staff to make changes to individual tax records and delete receipts. The audit says the computerized "system does not generate the system reports needed for adequate oversight and changes to property tax records were not properly reviewed and approved."

This audit recommended better oversight of property tax records and improved accounting processes within the county collector's office.

The audit of the Camden County collector and Property Tax system was also given a "fair" rating.

To read the comprehensive audit of Camden County, click HERE.

To read the audit of the Camden County collector and Property Tax System, click HERE.

KY3/KSPR's Andrew Havranek will have more on the audits' findings on Thursday evening's newscasts.