CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s annual audit found what was described as “poor accounting practices” in Carter County’s financial statements.
A release from the comptroller’s office stated there were 11 findings from the county’s audit of the fiscal year 2022. Of those findings, six detail “deficiencies, areas of noncompliance, and material weaknesses in the finance department.”
A spokesperson with the comptroller’s office told News Channel 11 that the poor practices led to Carter County’s audit taking a significant amount of time and resources to complete.
“Carter County’s audit is one of the last audits we’re releasing in this cycle, and much of that is because it took so long to get the audit and the financial statements in a position where we could express an opinion,” said John Dunn, director of communications for the office of the comptroller.
Several of the audit’s findings were centered on the county’s solid waste department, which the release states is under investigation. Those findings included issues with accounting functions, computer backup procedures and failure to review logs.
In addition, Carter County Schools’ transportation department was also identified as being under investigation following the audit.
The release stated that any possible findings from the investigations into the solid waste department and the school system would be published in separate reports.
Dunn said investigations into matters such as Carter County’s are done regardless of how much money is actually involved.
“In our view, any misuse of public money or public property is something that’s deemed to be investigatable, and we will certainly follow up on those situations,” Dunn said.
According to the comptroller’s office, auditors found other budget issues such as “expenditures exceeding the appropriations approved by the county commission; a failure to maintain accurate capital asset records; and purchasing deficiencies.”
“The work required of Carter County going forward is not difficult and is largely traceable to management”, Dunn said.
“It is really important that the person leading that office, that the people working in that office, are highly capable,” Dunn said. “That there’s good management, leadership, and oversight. So we do want to make sure that that office is well run because when it is, that centralized financial function can be very successful for counties.”
The comptroller’s office is confident the Carter County Office of the Finance Director can correct the discovered issues ahead of the next annual audit.
“Carter County officials, commissioners, and the audit committee should carefully examine these findings and take the necessary corrective action,” said Comptroller of the Treasury Jason Mumpower in the release. “Significant steps must be taken in the finance department in order to improve operations and accountability.”