Auditor Pins Rhea Co. on Bookkeeping, Procurement Issues

Rhea County violated its own purchasing procedures when it bought $21,000 worth of wrestling mats for a high school without soliciting competitive bids, state auditors found.

The county’s policy requires schools purchases over $5,000 to be put out for competitive proposals.

“The failure to solicit competitive bids could result in the county paying more than the most competitive price,” state comptroller’s office auditors wrote in their review of finances at the end of fiscal year 2010.

In its response, the county finance director said the policy would be reiterated to department heads and that the county would “strive to make the procedures work.”

Auditors also found widespread problems in the county’s tracking of assets, from keeping up with paper records to being able to locate the items.

The records for the county and schools department “contained numerous material discrepancies, errors, and inaccurate calculations of accumulated depreciation balances,” auditors wrote. “In addition, the office did not have procedures in place to ensure that newly acquired capital assets were accounted for properly.”

Auditors also found that the inventory records of assets were incomplete, that there was no process for adding or deleting items from the list, and there was no independent verification of the records.

Auditors wrote that they had noted the problems previously in the 2009 report.

County officials responded by saying they would have more oversight of the assets records, and that they had obtained new equipment and hired a new employee to track assets. The recordkeeping would be audited internally “at regular intervals,” county officials said.