By Kimberly McMillian
DAYTON, Tenn. -- Facing costs for a new jail and new high school, the Rhea County Purchase and Finance Committee is looking closely at budget concerns after a state audit in 2009 revealed paperwork discrepancies.
The audit was done by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
The committee's most recent meeting focused on the county's central maintenance department, where employees found that invoices showed hours charged didn't coincide with work completed.
County Commission Chairman Ronnie Raper told committee members that "nobody knows what's going on. It's getting out of hand."
School principals and others call during the day with "emergencies," and maintenance department director Marty Derlak said he has requested that they fill out work orders.
"Everything can't be an emergency," Raper said.
Another concern raised by the finance committee in previous months was that blanket invoices in the maintenance department had been paid without the necessary documentation.
One such invoice revealed a chair or chairs that had cost more than $300, Rhea County Finance Director Bill Graham said.
Derlak denied knowledge of that purchase during a committee meeting.
"I'm not aware of it," he said.
Director of Schools Jerry Levengood said that a "clear flow" of how the money is spent would help people better understand the department's operation.
County Executive George Thacker, who was elected in August, said he will "definitely be more involved" in oversight.
Road Superintendent Tommy Snyder recommended establishing a list of who's in charge of the department's spending.
Derlak agreed, saying, "It'll create more accountability."
"You're in charge," Raper said to Thacker, after the committee approved the motion.
Members voted that Raper, Snyder and Thacker could sign off on future invoices.
"I personally think this will work," Raper said.
Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@ bellsouth.net.
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