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Comptroller Audit Finds Continuing Issues in Wayne County

Press release from the office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury; January 26, 2015:

Wayne County leaders have made some progress, but more needs to be done to correct the problems detailed in its annual audit by the Comptroller’s office.

The audit highlights 17 problems spread across several county offices. 12 of these findings were also cited in last year’s report but had not been corrected.

The office of the county executive accounted for nearly half of this year’s issues. All eight of the findings related to that office were also presented in last year’s report. The findings include problems with accounting, budgeting, purchasing, and payroll. Several issues with the Wayne County Board of Public Utilities, which is led by the county executive, were also noted.

Most of the other findings in the report concern financial management issues and poor internal controls, such as multiple employees operating from the same cash drawer and a failure to divide money-handling responsibilities.

Auditors also noted a Comptroller investigation of the Wayne County School Department released in July 2014. This report revealed a cash shortage of $319,134.58. This report can be viewed at http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/repository/ia/waynecountyschools.pdf.

“Last year our auditors reported 30 findings in Wayne County government,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “While I’m pleased to see some improvement, there is still much work to be done. The Audit Committee and county leaders must be serious about fixing these lingering problems.”

To view the audit online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/la/

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Comptroller: Fmr. Wayne County Education Staff Responsible for $320K Shortage

Press release from the Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury; July 29, 2014:

Four former employees of the Wayne County School Department are to blame for a $319,134.58 shortage in school accounts. The Comptroller’s Office, in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service began investigating after comptroller auditors discovered discrepancies during their annual audit.

Investigators confirmed the former grants coordinator and three former bookkeepers received $183,474.25 in unauthorized payroll payments and classified them to teacher salary account codes. These payments were in addition to their budgeted salaries.

Investigators also uncovered personal purchases on the School Department’s Wal-Mart credit cards. These purchases included more than $77,176.69 in gift cards and related fees, as well as $58,483.64 in groceries and personal items. The credit cards were assigned to the former General Purpose School Fund bookkeeper.

The investigative report outlines several concerns with the school system’s money-handling practices. Managers should ensure that no employee has complete control over payroll duties, and managers should regularly review credit card purchases.

School leaders indicate they have implemented new checks and balances to prevent a recurrence.

“There is no place for fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer money in government,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “While these findings are troubling, I am hopeful that changes are being made to correct the problems we’ve identified, and restore trust in the School Department.”

To view the investigation online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/.

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Haslam Announces $587K in Grants for Waynesboro, Wayne Co

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 17, 2014:

WAYNESBORO – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced two grants totaling more than $587,000 for downtown revitalization in Wayne County and energy efficiency improvements at the Green River Surface Water Treatment Plant in Waynesboro.

“These types of projects are critical to strengthening our communities,” Haslam said. “Increasing energy efficiencies saves taxpayer dollars and reduces air emissions and creating a more pedestrian-oriented environment improves our cities’ and towns’ livability and quality of life for Tennesseans.”

A $23,600 Clean Tennessee Energy Grant to the City of Waynesboro from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will support energy efficiency improvements at the Green River Surface Water Treatment Plant. This project will upgrade the control of four existing pump motors to allow more uniform pumping into the distribution system due to the large swing in day-to-day demands on the system. These improvements to the plant’s pump motors will create annual savings on the city’s power bill, and decreased electricity demand will also improve air quality by reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide at the power generation stations.

“We are pleased to help the City of Waynesboro become more energy efficient,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “We continue to look for ways to promote environmental awareness and energy efficiency within state government and within Tennessee’s communities.”

A $563,992 transportation alternative grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will fund Phase I of the Downtown Revitalization Project in Wayne County. The project includes replacing existing curbing, sidewalks, and pedestrian lighting and is located along the perimeter of the Wayne County Courthouse on US 64. The entrances and exits to the square parking area will also be relocated, creating a much safer crossing for pedestrians, and new landscaping and trees will be planted throughout the project area.

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement, and is administered by TDOT.

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

A variety of activities, such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects, are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

State Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) and Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) represent Wayne County in the Tennessee General Assembly.