TIFFIN - Seneca County officials say all of the problems identified in an annual audit of the county's finances have been corrected, including a $546,313 bank error that took nearly nine months to fix.
The lengthy audit report, released by State Auditor Mary Taylor yesterday, included three "significant deficiencies" and one instance of noncompliance for irregularities that showed up in 2007.
Most notably, the county's Emergency Medical Service office failed to bill for services for six months of last year, and one of the banks the county does business with erroneously debited $546,313 from a county checking account in September - a mistake that was not corrected until June 30.
County Treasurer Marguerite Bernard said she discovered the error last September but had tried unsuccessfully to work with the bank's local branch to rectify it. The bank was not identified in the audit.
"It was a bank error - strictly a bank error, not a local bank error," she said.
Ms. Bernard said the bank's main office in Cleveland ultimately credited the full amount to the county's account along with $14,316 in interest that could have been earned had the error not been made.
Commissioner Dave Sauber said the problems with EMS billing have been resolved, although the agency will be working for some time to overcome the financial mess left by former EMS Director Roy Myers, who was fired by commissioners last year for insubordination.
Current Director Ken Majors said the agency failed to send out bills totaling around $300,000 last year. It has since hired an outside firm to handle the billing, which is done on a weekly basis.
In the meantime, the agency is working to repay $110,000 loaned to it by commissioners to start 2008 as well as about $240,000 in debt for equipment purchases made by Mr. Myers.
"We're going to get this taken care of. It's just a matter of time," Mr. Majors said. "Our billing company is doing an amazing job."
The state audit recommended the county auditor have an employee other than the payroll clerk review payroll records to make sure they are accurate. Auditor Larry Beidelschies said he now has an employee from his fiscal division and real estate division doing "spot checks" of payroll records.
Finally, the audit showed concern that the county had appropriated more money than it expected to receive from a variety of grant sources in 2007. Mr. Beidelschies agreed the funds should not have been listed in that way, but he said in each case, the county knew the remainder of the grant money appropriated would be received after the end of the calendar year the state looked at.
Mr. Beidelschies, who recently announced plans to retire mid-way through his third term, said the county is in good financial shape. Estimated revenue for the year is on target, and the county is living within its budget.
"I'm pleased with the audit," he said. "That's what my goal is here in this county."
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