Following an early 2019 “unity” vote by the Greene County commission asking State Auditor Nicole Galloway to review Greene County finances, the auditor’s report on the sheriff’s office County of Greene was released on Monday.

While noting that the sheriff’s office needed to improve certain accounting controls and procedures, Galloway’s audit team gave the office an overall “good” rating, according to a copy of the report released to the News-Leader early Monday. A Greene County Commission audit is underway, the state auditor’s office said.

The committee’s 3-0 vote calling for the state audit came amid controversy in 2018 over the misuse of county taxpayer resources to promote a 1/2 cent sales tax measure passed by voters in 2017, along with other financial and operational concerns. . In the sales tax case, a special prosecutor refused to oust former Greene County president commissioner Bob Cirtin.

In his official responses to the auditor’s office findings, Sheriff Jim Arnott pledged to implement the audit recommendations, the Galloway office said Monday. In some cases, Arnott’s office has already taken action to implement the recommendations, Galloway’s office said.

In a draft statement prepared on the new report, Auditor Galloway said: “Audits help show how public servants can better serve their constituents, and taxpayers should be encouraged when these officials commit to taking the actions we are taking. recommend. “

Galloway added, “As my office continues its audit of the Greene County Commission, we remain committed to conducting a thorough and independent review of the county’s finances and operations. “

According to a draft press release, Galloway’s office found that in the prison administration division of GCSO, the accounting tasks were not sufficiently segregated and that a supervisory review of the division’s financial records was required. necessary.

“I am satisfied with the operations of the sheriff’s office,” Greene County Presidential Commissioner Bob Dixon told the News-Leader on Monday, hours after the audit was published. “And this audit, because it was done separately, should really provide a solid basis for this statement.”

Dixon called the “good” rating of GCSO’s operations “phenomenal” and that the financial control issues discovered by state auditors were “routine” issues that are being resolved.

“I’m very happy with the way the (sheriff’s) office is working,” Dixon said, adding, “I would say that for the whole county really. It’s very solid.”

Sheriff Arnott: “There is no shortage of money”

In a press conference on Monday afternoon, Sheriff Jim Arnott said he was happy the audit had taken place in an effort to educate the public and show the checks and balances to which his department complies. He also said he lamented the cost to taxpayers that the state audit presented.

While Arnott said his department had a good relationship with the team of state auditors who worked on the report over the course of a year, the sheriff also said his staff provided hundreds of thousands of documents requested and spent many working hours working on the process.

“The only thing they really found was procedural,” Arnott said. “The main thing to remember was that there was no shortage of money, that there was no misappropriation of resources, that there was no money wasted.”

The sheriff’s office is working on the auditor’s recommendations, he said.

One of Sheriff Arnott’s official responses included in the State Audit said, “We strive to ensure independent review and documentation of accounting and banking records. For fiscal year 2022, we will be requesting additional full-time staff to achieve these goals. in the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the county auditor who will provide direct oversight. “

Receipt and deposit processing procedures in several office divisions also needed better controls and improvements were needed in the reconciliation process for several office bank accounts, according to the draft release from Galloway’s office.

Arnott’s office said it had “already implemented” the recommendations made during the audit and also said: “We are working to ensure that relevant staff remain trained and follow up on process improvements that have been made. implemented”.

The GCSO has published similar official responses to other elements of the state audit.

Linda Simkins, a Springfield resident who has followed the county sales tax / audit whistleblower issue since its inception in 2017, recalled Monday morning that as the January 2019 county committee vote neared asking for the ‘state audit, former county commissioners resisted the idea.

As the News-Leader reported in late 2018, ahead of the audit vote, county taxpayers spent more than $ 311,000 on legal fees after whistleblowers complained about the tax measure’s promotional campaign. 2017 1/2 cent sale.

“Government transparency shouldn’t be that expensive,” Simkins said in an email to the News-Leader. “Additionally, taxpayers should know what an audit covers and does not cover.”

What does a “good” audit mean?

Last summer, the state auditor’s office released a report that covered county government operations outside of the sheriff’s office and county commission. This report also gave the county government an overall “good” rating, while finding that around $ 18,000 in spending on employee recognition and gifts was “questionable or unnecessary,” as the News reported. Leader earlier.

State of Missouri audits can rate an auditee “excellent,” “good”, “fair”, or “poor”. According to the audit report, a “good” rating means “the results of the audit indicate that this entity is well managed. The report contains few findings and the entity has indicated that most or all of the recommendations have already been or will be implemented. In addition, where appropriate, many of the previous recommendations have been implemented. “

Galloway, who was running in 2020 for governor of Missouri, is the only Democratic Party member to hold a position in the entire state of Missouri, while all three members of the Greene County commission are Republicans. Last week, Galloway announced she would not be running for re-election in 2022 or running for another elected position.

After: Missouri auditor to begin examination of Greene, Stone County collector’s offices

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