A Tennessee Comptroller’s Office audit of Van Buren County has found nine money handling findings with six reoccurring from last year.
Most of these findings come from cash overdrafts, failing to solicit bids and several expenditures exceeding appropriated amounts. Comptroller Director of Communications John Dunn said the repeat findings are concerning.
“It shows us that either there is an unwillingness or a failure to correct problems within a county,” Dunn said. “We urge the county to take a look at the issues noted in this report. Have a audit committee meet regularly to address them.”
The repeat findings range from the solid waste and sanitation fund to loans not being repaid properly.
“One repeat finding dealt with the solid waste and sanitation fund having a deficit in unassigned fund balance,” Dunn said. “Another was the general solid waste and sanitation and ambulance service fund had cash overdrafts during the year. Another was that interfund loans were not issued and repaid properly. The office had deficiencies in the lease purchase of a solid waste truck for at least the second year in a row. Another repeat finding was that the office of the county mayor had purchasing deficiencies. Another repeat finding is that there were no written agreements for solid waste collection services. Those will be the six repeat findings.”
Dunn said it is time for the county to address these findings.
“Our office has been heavily involved in Van Buren County for several months now,” Dunn said. “We continue to receive weekly financial updates from the county. The county has taken action to shore up some of its financial problems. They passed a tax increase as you know. What we are seeing is that there a need to really strengthen more of these financial management issues. These audit findings detail as we said a number of repeated issues. It is time for the county to really fix those lingering problems and take them seriously.”
Dunn said one finding detailed an issue on how the county leaders relay budget information to the county commission. In July 2019, the county had a negative balance of $62,000 in its general fund, but county commissioners got a report showing $230,000 available.
“That is almost a $300,000 difference between the actual amount of money that was in the fund and then what was presented to the county commission,” Dunn said. “It is vitally important that that information be accurate, so that the county commission and other county officials can make good decisions on accurate information at the time of the budget adoption.”
Dunn said once these issues are resolved, Van Buren will be financially stable as long as it follows its budget.