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Audit leads to theft investigation

Funds unaccounted for in county health department

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 5:32 p.m. CDT

While reviewing the audit of Grundy County finances Monday, members of the board's Finance Committee discussed issues with the Grundy County Health Department's accounting and a resulting criminal investigation.

The Grundy County State's Attorney's office is investigating an employee who may have been committing theft, but State's Attorney Jason Helland, because of the ongoing investigation, would not release a name nor indicate whether the employee is still working for the department.

Tawnya Mack, of Mack & Associates Certified Public Accounts, reviewed the county's fund balances compared to last year's, as well as her new findings.

"We found irregularities with deposits (from the health department) getting to the treasurer's office," Mack said.

Starting in June 2012, new procedures were put into place at the health department and the irregularities were no longer found, but prior to June, it was found that cash was being recorded within the department, but not being deposited with the Grundy County Treasurer's office.

Auditor testing does not check every receipt or deposit, so an exact amount allegedly stolen through the alleged theft is not known as of now, but Mack said Tuesday it is an excess of $10,000.

If the investigation results in charges, the amount stolen will determine whether the theft charges are felony or misdemeanor charges, Helland said.

"At this point we are in the preliminary stages," he said. "No charges have been filed, it's just an investigation in progress."

Board of Health President Joan Harrop said in a phone call Tuesday evening she could not comment on this situation.

According to the audit findings, prior to June 2012 the health department did not have a formal receipting process and receipts were not issued for cash and checks in every division of the department. In addition, there was no reconciliation between the receipt logs maintained by some divisions to what was actually being deposited or recorded.

A new process was implemented June 6, 2012, and all receipts have since been accounted for in testing done after that date.

The committee also discussed a recurring finding this year that was an issue in previous years as well — the health department's accounting system is inadequate.

All revenue and expenses are mainly entered into an Excel spreadsheet and are manually totaled, which allows for errors, said Mack. Cash receipts are also not recorded completely in the spreadsheet, making it difficult to trace deposits.

An update of the system needs to happen soon, Mack said.

"I feel this system is what allowed the theft to occur," she said.

County Board Chairman Ron Severson said he has spoken with the Board of Health regarding this before, and will do so again. The county has made several recommendations to the Board of Health, he said, but the county does not have control of the health department, the Board of Health does.

Finance Committee Chairman John Galloway said the county board could hold back $400,000 in subsidies it pays the health department if it needs to.

"This needs to end this year . . . the auditor comes back every year complaining about their archaic system," Galloway said.

Harrop said she believed a new accounting system had already been instituted at the health department that is a countywide system.

"There were problems throughout the county, not just in our department, and I think the accounting system was replaced countywide," she said.

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