published Thursday, September 15th, 2011

East Ridge seeks to replace missing $22,000 check

East Ridge is seeking to replace a $22,000 check from the state after it was misplaced this spring, city officials say.

Though the check was never cashed and has since been voided, East Ridge Public Safety Director Eddie Phillips called the loss “an unfortunate mistake.”

Phillips said the check is issued each year to reimburse police officers for training for their annual Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, a state requirement.

Though money is typically not issued until March, East Ridge chooses to pay out the $600-per-officer sum in November to prepare for the holidays.

An administrative assistant with the city’s Department of Public Safety confirmed the check arrived in the mail this March, and that she prepared it for Phillips to take to accounts receivable.

“I don’t remember seeing it,” Phillips said. “Somewhere in the process it got misplaced or put in the wrong file. I’ll take responsibility for it because I’m head of the department, but I’m not sure we’ll ever know where it went. It’s never happened before.”

He said most federal or state checks issued to the department are deposited directly into city accounts, not sent in paper form.

City Manager Tim Gobble said the discrepancy was found when the city began preparing for its annual audit this month.

The city does have a set protocol for making sure all received checks are delivered to accounts receivable, Gobble said.

“It just didn’t make it this time. People can lose things,” he said.

Cleyta Andrews, an accountant with Johnson, Hickey and Murchison — which performed the city’s audit this year — said the missing check would likely not be cited as a finding on the city’s annual auditor’s report.

“They were fortunately able to void it and replace it before it became a problem,” she said. “It’s not unusual for organizations to lose checks every now and then.”

In this situation, she said, auditors would check on the city’s typical procedures for transferring checks between departments, then issue a verbal recommendation.

This year’s auditor’s report will be issued in December, she said.

The city is also in the process of replacing 11 titles for city-owned cars. The titles were discovered missing when East Ridge officials took inventory of the city’s vehicles this summer.

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