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County Fails to Bid Out Jail Food Contract

Sequatchie County officials did not seek competitive bids for more than $110,000 in food for the jail, state auditors found, violating a state law that calls for bids on contracts worth less than a tenth of that amount.

Contracts worth $10,000 or more must be bid out, state law says, in an effort to get the best deal for taxpayers.

Auditors with the comptroller’s office also faulted the county executive’s office handling of budget matters, in their review of finances in the 2010 fiscal year. Among the complaints:

  • The budget approved by the County Commission conflicted with the budget submitted to the state comptroller.
  • County officials spent almost $95,000 more than they had available in the ambulance service fund.
  • Expenses exceeded appropriations by $50,000 in a major general fund category.
  • In certain funds the actual balances as of July 1, 2009, differed significantly from the numbers officials presented to the county commission — in the general fund the estimates were off by $381,000.

Auditors also found problems in the county’s capital asset records, and said the county staff do not have the skills necessary to produce financial statements that follow accepted accounting standards. These two findings had been noted for three or more years, auditors wrote, leading them to conclude that county officials are “either unwilling or unable to address the deficiencies.”

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