Almost $700,000 in government waste during second half of December

By TNWatchdog Staff on January 4, 2013
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By CHRISTOPHER BUTLER

Officials in 25 Tennessee government entities wasted or misused almost $700,000 in taxpayer money, according to a review of documents that the State Comptroller’s Office released during the second half of December.

HENRY COUNTY GENERAL SESSIONS COURT CLERK

  • A bookkeeper for the Henry County General Sessions Court Clerk improperly took almost $30,000 in court funds for personal use over a five-year period. Auditors were alerted after General Sessions Court Clerk Mike Wilson reported that some funds received in his office by mail were not recorded by the bookkeeper. That prompted a wider look at the bookkeeper’s practices dating from 2007 through 2011. Auditors determined that the bookkeeper pocketed cash paid to the office for court fines, costs and fees and then substituted checks received from other transactions that had not been recorded to reconcile the office’s records. The bookkeeper was fired and the auditors’ findings have been shared with the local district attorney’s office. Auditors said the bookkeeper had been allowed to manage all aspects of those fee collections, from the receipt of funds to the deposit and recording of them.
  • Total expenditures exceeded total appropriations approved by the County Commission in the Central Cafeteria Fund by $141,084.

TOWN OF JONESBOROUGH

  • The Town reported a water loss percentage of 55.6 percent, which exceeds the excessive water loss percentage of 35 percent set by the State of Tennessee Utility Management Review Board.

HUMPHREYS COUNTY SCHOOLS – ACTIVITY FUNDS

  • Gift cards as well as IPads, IPods, E-readers, and DVD players were purchased using the school credit card without any supporting documentation of reason for such purchases.

HAWKINS COUNTY EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS DISTRICT

  • Actual expenses of some line items were more than budgeted amounts.

BLOOMINGDALE UTILITY DISTRICT OF SULLIVAN COUNTY

  • Unaccounted for water at 39 percent.

CITY OF COLLINWOOD

  • Unaccounted for water at 51 percent.
  • In most instances, the recorder apparently attempted to conceal the theft of utility collections by discarding and/or destroying customer payment stubs.
  • Governmental expenditures in total and on many line items were over budget. Also, no budget was adopted for the beautification fund.

TOWN OF MEDON

  • The town exceeded budgeted expenditures in the General Fund and the Street Aid Fund.

CHUCKEY UTILITY DISTRICT

  • Percent unaccounted for water at 42.6 percent.

CITY OF COLLINWOOD

  • 45.9 percent unaccounted for water.

PARK REST HARDIN COUNTY HEALTH CENTER

  • Gift cards were given to employees as Christmas bonuses. These amounts were not reported on employees’ W-2’s.

WARREN COUNTY EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS DISTRICT

  • Expenditures exceeded appropriations on several of the budget’s line-items.

HARDIN COUNTY CONVENTION AND VISITOR’S BUREAU

  • Bureau expenses exceeded appropriations at the line-item and fund levels.

DICKSON COUNTY EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS DISTRICT

  • The District expended funds in excess of the adopted budget.

LAKE COUNTY

  • During the year, General Fund monies were used to purchase auto repairs/maintenance ($3,622) from Stewart’s Garage, a business owned by Charles Stewart, a member of the County Commission. These payments to a business owned by a member of the County Commission violate the state conflict of interest statute. Purchases from Stewart’s Garage now total $22,128 for 2008-12.
  • Expenditures exceeded appropriations approved by the County Commission in the Transportation and Food Service major appropriation categories of the General Purpose School Fund by $74,633 and $18,710, respectively.

CLAIBORNE COUNTY

  • Several employees in the Offices of County Mayor and Sheriff had accrued compensatory and vacation leave balances exceeding the maximum balance provided by the county’s personnel policy.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS DISTRICT

  • At the line-item level certain amounts exceeded the budgeted amounts.

CLARKSVILLE-MONTGOMERY COUNTY TOURISM COMMISSION

  • Certain expenditures exceeded the original budgeted amounts.

MARSHALL COUNTY

  • Expenditures exceeded appropriations in the General School Purpose Fund by $140,964.
  • Salaries exceeded line-item appropriations in the General Purpose School Fund by amounts ranging from $51 to $66,299.
  • In February 2012, a transfer of $65,000 was made from the General Purpose School Fund to the School Federal Projects Fund to provide cash flow for operations of the School Federal Projects Fund. This transfer was, in effect, an interfund loan and was not approved by the Board of Education, County Commission, and the state Comptroller’s Office, as required by state law. This loan was repaid in April 2012.

CITY OF WHITWELL

  • Unaccounted for water at 43.7 percent.
  • Audit tests indicated that all required purchases were not subjected to the bidding process, nor were required purchases presented to the Board of Commissioners for their approval.
  • Our review of city bank statements indicated that due to insufficient funds, the City incurred service charges on a routine basis. In fact, over $6,200 in overdraft fees was added to two of the City’s bank accounts in the three years ended October 2010.
  • The City paid over $2,200 for apparently unnecessary Internet services. The City used AOL and MSN dial-up Internet service until switching to a DSL Internet vendor in 2008. However, the City continued to pay over $40 per month to AOL and MSN for their services as well.
  • The mayor and the members of the Board of Commissioners failed to adopt a comprehensive written travel or expense reimbursement policy. Some city employees were reimbursed $50 per month for using their personal cell phones for city business. However, there was no board-approved policy allowing this practice. Similarly, the former city recorder charged fuel for her personal vehicle to the city credit card apparently for city-related use, but she did not keep a record of mileage driven for city purposes.
  • Actual expenditures exceeded the amount appropriated in the budget in some funds.
  • There is a fund deficit in the General Fund.

TOWN OF SILERTON

  • The Board of Mayor and Aldermen did not adopt a budget prior to the beginning of the fiscal year ended June 11, 2011. In addition, expenditures exceeded appropriations in the government general fund by $190.

CITY OF ELIZABETHTON

  • Unaccounted for water at 55.6 percent.

GRUNDY COUNTY 911

  • Actual expenditures exceeded the amount budgeted.

TOWN OF HUNTLAND

  • Actual expenditures exceeded the amount appropriated in the budget in some funds.
  • There is a fund deficit in the Sanitation fund.

CITY OF NEWBERN

  • During the year ended June 30, 2012, expenditures exceeded appropriations in the General Fund by $97,459 and in the Sanitation Fund by $64,293.

CITY OF DYER

  • Actual expenditures exceeded amounts authorized in the budget by $9,442 in the State Street Aid Fund.

Christopher Butler is the editor of Tennessee Watchdog. Contact him at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org

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Posted under Government Waste, Misuse of funds, News.

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