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About one in six credit card transactions in Sequatchie County government violated the county's credit card usage policy, creating a situation that could result in improper use of taxpayer money, state auditors said.

In 22 of the 136 credit card purchases reviewed for fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, auditors found that credit card invoices were paid without adequate documentation to support charges like restaurant meals, postage, vehicle maintenance, software and parking charges, according to the report released Tuesday by the Tennessee Comptroller's Office.

Auditors also noted another 12 charges for lodging that did not include documentation explaining the reason for the stay. Without documentation, auditors could not determine if these hotel stays were for the benefit of the county, officials said.

Additionally, auditors discovered several travel reimbursement requests in which employees were reimbursed for non-travel related expenses — vehicle parts and tires, a vacuum cleaner, roofing materials, and coffee supplies.

Sequatchie County leaders must also improve oversight of the county's purchasing process to ensure purchase orders are issued, documentation is on file to support purchases, and competitive bids are solicited for applicable purchases, officials said.

In all, Sequatchie County's fiscal year 2016 audit report includes 10 findings, which is up from four in fiscal year 2015. The findings are related to the offices of county executive, highway supervisor, county clerk and sheriff.

The credit card finding was in the county executive's office, as well as deficiencies related to travel reimbursements, purchasing procedures and a lack of protection of information resources. Those information resources were not identified because of their sensitive nature. The credit card finding was a repeat from 2015.

The highway supervisor's office's payroll liability accounts were not reconciled, retirement wages and withholdings were not reported and remitted to the state retirement system, and duties were not adequately segregated, officials said.

The sheriff's office didn't prepare an annual financial report, and there were deficiencies in accounting records.

Department heads of each office told state officials they would address record-keeping shortcomings.

"Sequatchie County leaders must do a better job of demonstrating accountability over taxpayer funds," Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. "Documentation is necessary to satisfy the public's basic desire to know that money is being spent appropriately and in compliance with county policies."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

This story was updated March 7 at 10:55 p.m.

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