Why We Need Change in the Trustee’s Office

Why We Need Change in the Trustee’s Office

Over the course this campaign, I’ve been asked a lot about what motivated me to run for Trustee. I am deeply concerned about the reasons the Trustee’s office has been in the news over the past several years. I recently sent a mailer communicating some of these problems:

More state audit problems over the last 3 years than any other Middle TN county our size

Here’s how we stack up to other Middle Tennessee counties with over 100,000 in population over the past three years of state-mandated audits:

County 2017 2016 2015 TOTAL
Davidson 0 0 0 0
Rutherford 0 0 0 0
Williamson 0 0 0 0
Montgomery 1 0 1 2
Sumner 0 0 0 0
Wilson 0 0 0 0

Employee theft of $12,000 which went undetected for nearly 2 years

The 2017 annual State Comptroller’s office reveals the following details:

An investigation conducted by auditors from the Division of Local Government Audit and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department revealed the following:

A. Between January 25, 2016 and November 17, 2017, the deputy clerk voided nine property tax receipts totaling $12,461 and stole the cash. To conceal the thefts, the deputy temporarily changed the mailing address for these property tax notices to her personal address, so any deliquent notices would be mailed to the deputy instead of the taxpayer. The deputy repaid $3,749 prior to December 22, 2017, leaving an outstanding cash shortage of $8,712 on that date. The voided receipts required supervisory approval, but the details giving rise to the voided transactions were not verified by the supervisor.

B. The software application used by the office generates various audit logs that display transaction changes made by users; however these audit logs were not periodically reviewed by supervisory personnel.

C. The trustee did not file a Fraud Reporting Form as required by state statute. Sections 8-4-501 through 8-4-505, Tennessee Code Annotated, requires a person elected or appointed to any office of a public entity to notify the Comptroller of the Treasury within a reasonable amount of time under the particular circumstances, but shall not under any circumstances exceed five working days, of any unlawful conduct including theft, forgery, credit card fraud, or any other act of unlawful taking, waste, or abuse of, or official misconduct, involving public money, property or services.

You can read the 2017 Audit Report directly from the State Comptroller’s website – the audit findings concerning the Trustee’s office begins on page 237.

Denied requests for additional local auditing in 2017

The Audit Committee of the Montgomery County Commission requested records in an attempt to conduct additional local auditing of the Trustee’s office in 2017, but the Trustee’s office denied the request citing autonomy of the office. Unfortunately, my opponent cited “autonomy of the office” as a reason she is against additional auditing.

Click on the image below to play a video from the NAACP Forum, June 29, 2018

She later told the Leaf Chronicle she was in favor of local auditing, but was concerned about the cost.

Cited for “lack of management oversight” in 2015

The 2015 State Comptroller’s Audit cited the Trustee’s office for a “significant deficiency under government auditing standards”:

The following accounting deficiencies were identified in the Office of Trustee, which was the result of a lack of management oversight:

A. As of the date of this report, the office had not reconciled its two largest bank accounts with the general ledger accounts since June 30, 2014, even though auditors requested these reconciliations be performed several times during the audit. In addition, seven other bank accounts were not reconciled until auditors made an official request. The reconciliation of these seven accounts resulted in $19,363 in posting errors that were identified but not corrected and $3,260 in errors that have not been identified. Sound business practices require the reconciliation of bank statements with the general ledger on a current basis to ensure that all cash collections and disbursements are recorded in the accounting records accurately.

B. Section 5-8-505, Tennessee Code Annotated, requires the trustee file an annual financial report with the county mayor and county clerk. In an attempt to comply with this statute, the office prepared three separate annual financial reports; however, all three reports failed to accurately summarize the financial activity of the office.

C. General ledger receivables for the property tax relief program did not reconcile with the detailed receivable listing by $1,389. In addition, the general ledger receivable presented four returned checks totaling $9,436 that had no supporting documentation on file, and no effort was made to collect the returned checks.

You can read the full 2015 Audit Report on the State Comptroller’s website. The Trustee’s office findings begin on page 276.

Nearly $23,000 in posting errors in a single year

As quoted above, the 2015 Annual Audit reveals total accounting errors of $22,623.

However …

There is a solution. I want to offer my experience as a banker, financial advisor, manager and small business owner to turn things around. I know with your vote, we can affect real change in the Trustee’s office and put these problems behind us. I need your vote to make it happen.

Please vote during Early Voting – July 13-28 at the Montgomery County Election Commission or on Election Day – August 2 at your local precinct.