Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tribune Reports Millions of Dollars in Money Errors Found in LaPorte Audit

From the South Bend Tribune:

A recent audit has revealed millions of dollars in accounting and tax errors in the LaPorte County Auditor’s office from September 2011 to December 2012.

It also turned up lax record-keeping regarding county credit cards.
An Indiana State Board of Accounts report, filed Feb. 21, also details the mishandling of county funds by former deputy auditor Mary Ray, who allegedly took more than $153,000 from cash deposits made to the auditor’s office.

The audit shows more than $34.3 million in uncorrected differences between county bank accounts and the Treasurer’s ledgers from 2009 to 2012. Some of those differences are noted in reconciling items (which can be things like uncashed checks), while others are unidentified.

As of Nov. 14, 2013, no full reconcilement between bank accounts and the auditor’s ledgers was completed by county staff, the report states.

Former auditor Craig Hinchman responded with an official statement included in the report, and said many of the errors were out of his and his staff’s control. Hinchman served as LaPorte County auditor from Jan. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2012.
When it came to the condition of the county’s bookkeeping, Hinchman cited the need to meet a state-imposed deadline of completing prior taxes as reason for letting some daily tasks slide.
“If LaPorte County did not get three years of taxes completed in 2012 the State of Indiana was going to fine the county one million dollars,” Hinchman wrote in his response. “So the focus of my department along with other departments was to comply with this order. Some of the day to day operations suffered. This would not have happened if we were not trying to make the dead line.”