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County audit a clean one
But, issues in the Treasures Office cause blemishes
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County backs city Neighborhood Revitalization Plan


The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved an interlocal agreement for the City of Great Bend’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. 

This incentive program was established to encourage improvements within the City of Great Bend, said Great Bend City Attorney Bob Suelter. The rebate is structured to allow an annual graduated property tax rebate for construction and rehabilitations to both residential and commercial properties within identified zones. 

In this case, with a few exceptions, most of Great Bend east of Washington Street falls in a five-year plan with most of the balance falling within a 10-year plan, Suelter said. The agreement period ends Dec. 31, 2021.

“The county has had a hard time doing anything positive economic development wise due to budget constraints,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. However, by supporting this, the county can help residents improve their properties.

Suelter said, due to changes in state laws that imposed tax lids on municipalities, the city initially wasn’t going to renew the plan. But, the City Council and other officials decided the benefits outweighed the costs.

Barton County received a clean audit report Monday morning, however auditors warned of lingering problems within the County Treasurer’s Office. 

“We are giving an unmodified opinion,” said Melissa Ille of Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball. “That is the cleanest opinion we can issue.”

Before the County Commission approved the 2016 audit report, Ille said it was a pleasure working with the county this year. “There were no major uprisings.”

Nonetheless, Ille said ABBB found two statutory violations, both in the Treasurer’s Office. One involved tax distributions not being made in a timely manner and the other involved the motor vehicle tax licence fee fund being in the red $881.

She then turned to the governance letter, which outlines the auditors’ recommendations, some of which referenced the Treasure’s Office.

Current year comments included:

• A recommendation that the commissions received by the Barton County Sheriff Office for the sale of commissary items to inmates be deposited to the county treasurer when received. The inmate’s commissary bank account should only hold money that belongs to the inmates. This stemmed from a mix up in communications within the BCSO and has been rectified.

• A recommendation that the County Treasurer’s office provide receipts to all departments making daily deposits. These are currently not being provided to the County Attorney’s office.

Prior Year Comments that were not resolved during the current year included:

• A recommendation that any employee involved with receipting or disbursing county funds be required to take five consecutive days of vacation to allow for better oversight, review, and cross-training of employees.

• A recommendation that the software updates applied by Computer Information Concepts (CIC) not be run until a representative from the county authorizes it. Even though CIC is the software provider, the system is owned by the County and the responsibility of said system remains with the county. The county should be monitoring who is allowed to access the system from outside and limit these instances to authorized personnel only.

Ille also said the county needs to make sure passwords are changed annually.

• A recommendation that the county treasurer review and approve the monthly bank reconciliations and tax roll reconciliation being completed by the finance officer. Ille said auditors have suggested this be done in the past and it still not being done.

• We recommend that the county enforce its written policy pertaining to comp time not being allowed to carry forward to the next year. As of Dec. 31 , 2016, the County still owed employees $809 in unpaid comp time. 

• At Dec. 31, 2016, there were checks listed on the outstanding check list for the treasurer’s tax distribution account and payroll account that exceeded two years in age. These outstanding items need to be reviewed and checks reprinted for the intended recipients or funds should be submitted to the State Treasurer’s unclaimed property department.

As for the matter pertaining to the Treasure’s Office, Commissioner Alicia Straub said Treasurer Kevin Wondra had been invited to the commission’s study session last week and to the meeting Monday morning, but he did not attend either. “I wish he was here to give some insights. This is not under our control.”

This was the latest round in a string of run-ins the commission has had with Wondra, dating back to 2014. The problems then dealt with unreconciled tax rolls, inaccurately recorded end-of-year tax receipts and belated disbursement checks.

Wondra did not seek reelection this past November. Local businessman James Jordan won the job in the general election, but won’t take office until October.