Drug Program Money Used On Landscaping

Unicoi County officials spent money meant for its drug control program on landscaping and other expenses questioned by state auditors.

A state audit has found that county officials used the drug control funds for “rentals, memberships and dues, repairs, landscaping, and other items that were of a questionable nature” under state law, which says the money must be used for drug enforcement, education and treatment, or for one-time law enforcement expenses.

Auditors also faulted other aspects of the drug control fund’s financial management, noting inadequate documentation in purchasing and payment processes and in employee travel.

The audit by the state Comptroller’s Office covers fiscal year 2010.

No documentation was available to prove that more than $50,000 in work on a county jail annex had been competitively bid, the audit found, and because the Jail Committee did not have minutes from its meetings, auditors could not determine whether the work was put out for bids. State law requires counties to solicit bids for projects over $10,000.

The audit also summarized the theft of thousands from a schools fund, a finding that auditors had made public last year.

A county schools fund was short $21,000 as of May 25, a revelation that ultimately led former schools finance director Angela Williams to plead guilty to multiple counts of theft and admit she had misappropriated schools funds for her personal use.

She resigned from the school system in May, the Johnson City Press reported.