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Treasurer grilled over shortcomings
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The Barton County Treasurer’s Office came under fire Monday morning for $1.3 million in 2013 end-of-year property tax receipts that had not been properly recorded. This and other shortcomings in the department came to light through preliminary audit findings presented during the Barton County Commission meeting.
County Treasurer Kevin Wondra was in the hot seat as Vickie Dreiling of the accounting firm Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball reviewed her pre-audit letter. “We found some issues in the Treasurer’s Office,” Dreiling said.
She did say Wondra and his department cooperated and that most of the problems had been rectified.
A frustrated County Commission then approved the hiring of a full-time “analyst” to serve as an assistant for Wondra. To create the position, one part-time job will be eliminated.
Commission Chairman Kenny Shremmer questioned why it was necessary to hire someone else to do what he called the treasurer’s job. He said it seemed redundant.

The report
“As of Dec. 31, 2013, the county treasurer notified us that there was $1,332,600.82 in tax revenue that had not been recorded in the books,” Dreiling said. This constitutes a “material weakness,” which is the most severe deficiency in internal controls that can be registered by auditors.
In addition, there were 128 property tax abatements that had been approved by the Commission in December and January that had not been processed. This amounted to a “significant deficiency,” which is not as severe as the material weakness, Dreiling said.
Furthermore, December bank reconciliation records for county bank accounts maintained through Wondra’s office could not be found. There was one account that had not been reconciled since October.
And, she said, there was a problem with some tax sale accounts when they were converted to the new county-wide bookkeeping software. They were converted into the new system as delinquent when they weren’t.
Dreiling and her staff conducted the county audit two weeks ago. The report Monday was just a courtesy, but the items mentioned will appear in their final audit management letter, Dreiling said.
This isn’t the first time for the property tax revenue problem, Dreiling said. It appeared in an audit three years ago.
Then, in 2012, Wondra brought in staff after hours at the end of the year to enter the information. That did not happen for 2013.
In his defense, Wondra said when he did bring people in, it was all overtime and an extra expense. Besides, he said, this year, he thought he had it under control.
He had the tax statements processed by an out-of-house entity which was to have a report from Wondra by mid November. However, due to issues with this file, it didn’t get to the processor is a usable form until Nov. 27.
Plus, Wondra said, his office is coping with the new software. He and his staff were trained, but when it came to real-world problems that arose, they had problems implementing the new system.
Then, there was a clerk who resigned unexpectedly, leaving him shorthanded.
All these factors may not have been a problem, he said. Just before Christmas, they were fairly well caught up on entering receipts, however they were slammed in the final week of the year and fell behind.
“It was more than we could handle,” Wondra said. Prior to three years ago, these problems had never been addressed.
The idea of hiring the analyst came up last fall, but there was a mix up in communication between the Commission and Wondra.
Wondra was still waiting for the authority to hire someone. The Commission was under the impression it had already done that.
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz told Wondra he should have asked for help before the problems got out of control.
The responsibility to correct many of these mistakes falls on other departments, including County Clerk Donna Zimmerman. “The new person would be beneficial to multiple offices,” she said.
The Treasurer’s Office staff works hard, she said. But, they don’t always have the knowledge to analyze the data they are entering.