Charlene and Darrell Blaschke presented the petition to the court during its Aug. 12 meeting.
“Since you receive reports each month from both the county auditor and treasurer, you too should be aware and concerned of these discrepancies and irresponsibilities of our tax dollars.”
Charlene Blaschke pointed to recent issues with reconciling the amounts in the county’s financial records with the county’s bank account balances as reason to move forward with a full audit.
“We realize this will cost us as taxpayers to have a complete audit, but we believe now is the time to have this audit done of all county funds, and clear the air once and for all. If there is nothing to hide, then everyone should be in favor of this full audit.”
Darrel Blaschke told the court that the petition has almost 450 signatures.
“We will note it on the record that we have received and accepted the petition,” County Judge Richard Butler said.
Butler said he has noted since March that the county’s financial records seem to have discrepancies.
The county’s independent audit is ongoing, Butler said, although it should have been completed by March 31.
The discrepancies with the reconciliation between the county’s records and the bank’s records have delayed the process, he added.
“It is of great concern to me,” Butler said. “I don’t know what the problem is. I don’t know exactly or precisely where the fault lies.”
“I will tell you this,” Butler said. “The county is already taking steps to get to the bottom of what the problem is.”
If the audit is prepared before an acceptable reconciliation is presented to the auditors, the audit will be given a negative treatment and will have an adverse effect on the the county’s bond rating, the county’s ability to sell bonds and interest rates, he said.
“I would like for that not to happen,” Butler said.
“I would ask for your patience,” Butler said. “We are currently engaged in about six weeks of very intensive activity trying to prepare our budget for next year.”
“You’re right, there shouldn’t be a nickel’s difference,” Butler said in regard to the discrepancies.
“What I would like to do, is to continue with our current investigation that we have going,” Butler said. “I can tell you that it has expanded beyond simply that audit – let’s see what turns up. I think you will be satisfied to see what steps are being taken to investigate this discrepancy and what issues might lie underneath.”
“But I don’t want to, at this time, hire an additional auditor until we see what our investigation turns up,” Butler said. “I don’t want to occupy the auditor’s office with this issue for another six weeks. Mrs. Kasprzyk is working hard with me to get the budget put together and I need to get that done.”
“If you want to freeze this county’s budgetary process, if you want us to be frozen and not be able to function as a county, then don’t give us those six weeks and insist on immediate action and see what happens,” Butler said.
Charlene Blaschke asked Butler who is investigating the matter.
“I can’t tell you that right now,” Butler said. “It is subject to attorney-client privilege. The county has employed an attorney and the county’s attorney is working on that right now.”
There is still time to include funding in the budget for an additional audit, if needed, Butler emphasized.
Butler asked Charlene Blaschke how much she thought such an audit might cost.
Charlene Blaschke estimated the cost at somewhere between $50,000 and $150,000.
After a lengthy discussion the court took no action on the agenda item calling for a full audit.