By Joe Baker
KARNES CITY – An independent auditing firm has expressed concerns with the county treasurer’s office during a recent meeting of Karnes County Commissioners Court.
Janet Pitman, representing Alonzo, Bacarisse, Irvine and Palmer (ABIP), a firm specializing in certified public accounting, spoke to Commissioners Court on June 30 in an effort to resolve the situation.
County Judge Richard Butler asked Pitman when the county’s independent audit would be typically finished.
Pitman said that last year it was completed in March and the year before was done in May.
“We are a little behind,” Pitman said.
Pitman said they lacked the bank reconciliation, which is a significant item needed in order to complete the audit.
Mike Del Toro, another representative of the firm, said they received one from the the county treasurer’s office on May 9, but it is off by $187,000.
“It is not properly reconciled,” Del Toro said.
Pitman said they requested a corrected version but it had not yet been delivered. She went on to explain that last year’s reconciliation was off by about $5,000 which was within acceptable standards. $187,000, however, she explained, would not be within acceptable standards.
During an interview with The Karnes Countywide on July 14, Karnes County Judge Richard Butler expressed frustration with the county treasurer’s inability to deliver to the independent auditors what was required for their audit.
Butler said when he initially brought it up with County Treasurer Vi Malone, he was assured the auditor’s would get what they needed in a short timeframe.
Later, during one of the June meetings of Commissioners Court, Butler said he asked Malone about the reconciliation again and was again assured it would be done within a week.
Butler asked representatives of the firm to inform the court of the situation and at the meeting Malone again assured the court that the matter would be resolved within a week.
A week passed, and then another, Butler said and the accountants still lacked the reconciliation they needed.
“When I asked Vi, during the Commissioners Court meeting when I inquired about that, she told me they just hadn’t had time available to get that done,” Butler said. “I just want to get it fixed.”
Butler said he was concerned about the consequences of a negative financial report.
“It could affect our bond rating,” Butler said. “It could affect interest rates that we pay. It could have very negative repercussions.”
“I am assuming that Ms. Malone is going to kick it into gear and get this done,” Butler said.
Butler wasn’t sure exactly what date would be the latest the auditors could accept it, but he said he hoped the situation would be resolved by the August meeting of Commissioners Court.
A petition has been circulating calling for a “full” audit instead of the kind that the county typically does.
In response to that, Butler said an audit of such detail could cost “six figures” and whether or not is needed and would justify the cost is unclear.
On Monday, July 21, Malone told The Karnes Countywide that the reconciliation had been corrected and/or updated so that there was only a difference of between $5,000 to $10,000. She said the updated reconciliation had been delivered to ABIP.
“We have come up with the differences on there and they should be presenting the report at the July 31 meeting,” Malone said.
Malone said the problem was with large deposits that had not been entered into the system.
“There were big direct deposits to the bank that I just basically overlooked,” Malone said. “We actually had $187,000 more in the bank than was in our system.”