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5-16-07

 
   

Road tax fund
is questioned

 
 

by Dave Kinnamon
Landmark reporter

After enduring a $190,000 accounting discrepancy last fall, which was only resolved after the county agreed to pay its outside auditing firm an additional $5,000 to conduct a special audit, the Platte County treasury again faces the potential specter of unaccounted-for public funds, this time to the tune of almost $2.5 million this time.

According to a public works spreadsheet computed by Greg Sager, director of public works for Platte County, the county’s road sales tax cash balance should be about $4,032,762.

The road sales tax money is funded through a 3/8-cent sales tax that Platte County voters approved in 2003 to fund the county’s Roads Master Plan, which Sager is charged with implementing at the direction of the county commissioners.

The county has also borrowed about $8.5 million in general obligation bonds the past three years—borrowed against future road sales tax proceeds.

“I’m waiting for the auditor to verify actual revenue to date, actual expenditures to date and actual account balances. I’m anxious to get this information so that I can make a wise recommendation regarding future bonding,” Sager told The Landmark this week.

According to a fund balance provided by Bonnie Brown, Platte County treasurer, the discrepancy could be as high as $2,434,516.

Brown, who maintains the county’s cash accounts, cash receipts, and disburses all the county’s checks, shows the ending balance for fund 404, the main road sales tax cash account, as of April 30, 2007, to be $1,598,246.98

Siobhann Williams, Platte County auditor, told The Landmark this week that Sager’s accounting spreadsheet doesn’t take into account two other funds that the road sales tax monies get dumped into. Those two accounts are the road sales tax debt fund (which services the debt on the general obligation bonds borrowed against future road sales tax receipts) and the road sales tax fund.

Williams said that the road sales tax debt fund has a current cash balance of $983,000 while the road sales tax fund has a current cash balance of $1.3 million. Combined, the two accounts equal about $2.3 million, almost enough to cover the discrepancy that Sager is concerned about.

Williams cites her current project of conducting the county’s annual financial statement audit and “cleaning up” the accounting she inherited from the previous county auditor, Sandra Thomas, as reasons why she has been too busy to reconcile the differences between the county’s official ledger and what Sager shows on his spreadsheet. Williams will conduct the reconciliation as soon as she can, she said.

Williams is fairly confident that the accounts will reconcile when Sager’s numbers take into account the additional $2.3 million from the road sales tax fund and the road sales tax debt fund.

She says it’s an issue of time, or lack of it, on her part and a small staff in the auditor’s office.

“We’ve had a lot of residual issues to address, clean up. We need to get 2006 all cleaned up so we have good balances going forward on everything,” Williams said.