Corrective actions stemming from forensic audit
Newton County has enacted several policies and procedures since report from Frazier and Deeter
In October, Newton County Commissioners were told of the findings from an accounting analysis performed by David Sawyer, of Frazier and Deeter CPAs and advisors. That audit was directed by the Board of Commissioners (BOC) and revealed what Sawyer said were “financial damages to Newton County taxpayers.”
The audit was an in-depth look at several county departments, including SPLOST/Impact Fees, the landfill, the proposed Bear Creek Reservoir project, community centers and the Newton County Recreation Commission.
Immediately upon learning of the information contained in Sawyer’s report, Newton County staff has been diligently working on creating new rules and procedures, for accountability and transparency.
Detailed below are some of the actions being taken in relation to Sawyer’s report by Newton County staff and the BOC, which acknowledges the severity of the issues and are dedicated to resolving them and maintaining the public’s trust.
The county no longer utilizes pooled cash for SPLOST and Impact Fees. All checks for SPLOST and Impact Fees are paid through each separate checking account.
The county is in the process of preparing a financial management policy book to incorporate all financial policies within the county. This book will first go to legal for review then to the BOC for approval. Once that process is complete it will be published on the county’s website. The financial management policies will include governing actions over:
- Fund Balance
- Fiscal Planning/Budgeting
- Capital Improvement Plan and Capital Assets
- Debt Management
- Accounting and Financial Reporting
- Internal Controls
- Check Signing
- Cell Phone
- Vehicle Assignment and Take Home Policy
The county has also began the process of performing an analysis of internal controls surrounding the financial and accounting processes. A standard operating procedure (SOP) for each function within the finance department is being written. That SOP will include accounts payable, accounts receivable, grants, payroll purchasing and general accounting.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
The BOC recently sent an ethics policy to County Attorney Megan Martin for review and is scheduled to be considered by the BOC on Feb. 21.
Subcontractors are being paid directly by the county in order to eliminate pass-through administrative costs. The Newton County landfill is also now under the operation of a Solid Waste Management Authority. IN January a new landfill director was hired.
The county will continue working toward greater accountability and transparency in its dealings with the tax payers.