CLEVELAND, Tenn. - State auditors have given Bradley County good marks for handling its financial affairs in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
In a recent meeting with county commissioners, Bradley County Finance Director Lynn Burns discussed highlights of the audit, which addressed a few concerns about credit card- and cash-handling procedures in various departments. The review also noted a significant increase in the county's assets -- a leap of 13.4 percent over the previous year.
"The majority of that increase is the pay-down of debt," Burns said.
According to the audit, the county's net assets for the fiscal year were $24.8 million, compared to $21.8 million for fiscal year 2010-11 and $21 million for 2009-10. The 2011-12 increase more than tripled the 4 percent increase in net assets for 2010-11.
"The debt decreased, no matter what people [who] stand in front of you sometimes say and nobody wants to correct them," County Mayor D. Gary Davis told commissioners.
Of the problems noted in the audit, most were repeated from the previous year.
The audit stated that the Bradley County Fire & Rescue Department had violated the county's credit card policy through a lack of adequate documentation and managerial oversight. A specific issue was the purchase of meals within the county, which is contrary to the policy that meals should be purchased only while traveling.
The county has responded by distributing credit card policy documents to Fire & Rescue staff with credit card access, and training will be done, Burns said.
The previous year's audit noted similar violations by the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency, which officials mostly attributed to the aftermath of the devastating storms of April 2011. The violations included nearly $16,000 in purchases for communications hardware, electronics, office supplies, utility payments and meals.
The Bradley County Sheriff's Office did not consistently deposit work release funds within three days of collection, according to the audit. The audit for 2010-11 described a similar issue in which collected funds had not been deposited in a timely manner.
The behavior -- which "increases risk of fraud and misappropriation" -- is a failure to comply with state statutes, according to the audit.
Another recurring issue for the county was the lack of segregation of cash-handling duties in a number of offices with small staffs, Burns said. The offices of the Clerk and Master and the Probate Court Clerk were noted in the audit along with the county's ambulance service.
"We've seen this before," Burns said. "These are very small offices, and really the biggest thing that we could do would be to add staff to allow them to segregate some of their duties. That's something we look at every year when we do budgets."