Audit uncovers recurring problems in Pickett County government

BYRDSTOWN – A new audit from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office finds significant problems still exist in Pickett County government. The audit includes 14 findings related to accounting, bookkeeping, and management practices.

These problems have become a pattern, the comptroller says. Eleven of the findings were also highlighted in last year’s audit, but corrective action had not been taken.

Auditors identified several issues with the way county leaders are handling money. There are examples of expenditures exceeding appropriations, problems with purchasing procedures, and bank statements not being reconciled. There are also examples of poor internal safeguards, such as multiple employees using the same cash drawer, and not separating responsibilities for handling money.

These findings are spread across numerous departments including the county executive’s office, the road superintendent’s office, and the office of circuit and general sessions courts clerk.

Auditors also found the general fund had a deficit of $130,168 on June 30, resulting from expenditures exceeding available funds. The solid waste disposal fund had a deficit of $229,905.

Pickett County does not have a central system of accounting, budgeting and purchasing, which the Comptroller’s Office typically recommends as a best practice.

“Year after year we have found serious problems in Pickett County. It’s time for change,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in a release. “The county audit committee must begin addressing these findings, and work with the new county executive (Richard Daniel) to implement changes. The issues we’ve identified leave the county open to fraud, waste and abuse of public money.”

Daniel replaces Johnie Neal as county executive. Jimmy Cope is the county’s road superintendent and Larry Brown is circuit and general sessions court clerk. Both were re-elected in August.

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