Platte County Landmark

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Auditor wants to probe public works


by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Just hours after last week's Landmark hit the streets with a front page story in which Greg Sager, county public works director, said he was waiting for the county auditor to verify some road tax numbers so he could operate his department with accurate account balances, Sager was sent a letter from auditor Siobhann Williams.

The letter, dated Thursday, said Williams will be conducting an audit of the county roads tax since its inception.

"This audit will include a review of receipts, expenditures, TIF disbursements, and compliance with the contracts the county has with various municipalities for the distribution of the funds," her letter to Sager states.

Williams specifically referred to The Landmark article in her "notice of audit" to Sager.

"Please supply a copy of the spreadsheet you provided to the Platte County Landmark electronically along with copies of supporting documentation for your numbers for inclusion in the audit.”

Sager answered Williams' letter on Friday.

"Thank you for the memo notifying me that you will be conducting an audit of the county road sales tax since inception. As you are aware, I have been requesting an audit for several months (since you came into office in January). In the past you indicated that your office would not be able to accommodate my request due to lack of time; I am delighted the situation has changed.”

Sager said he has provided Williams with the spreadsheet information she requested. But much of the information Williams is seeking must come from other sources, Sager said.

"Since I have only been at my post as the director of public works beginning August 2005, you will have to direct some of your questions to former public works director Dale Thomas, former second district commissioner Steve Wegner, Greg Bricker of George K. Baum and Assoc., and others," he wrote to Williams.

Sager also pointed out to the auditor that his department does not handle receipts of road sales tax money or TIF disbursements.

"I would refer you to county treasurer Bonnie Brown for that information. I believe receipting money and disbursements are her responsibility," Sager wrote.

Documents relating to the various municipalities and distribution of funds are also not a function of the public works department, Sager said. Policy decisions regarding the road sales tax are the responsibility and duty of the Platte County Commission, Sager said.

"In respect to the legal issues regarding compliance, I would refer you to county counselor, Robert Shaw. With regard to distribution of funds to different municipalities, I once again refer you to county treasurer Bonnie Brown. She would be responsible for the accuracy of these numbers and reconciliation issues surrounding these accounts.”

Sager explained spreadsheet numbers are based on financial information provided to him by Greg Bricker of George K. Baum, the county's financial advisor for the road sales tax.

Asked about the timing of her "notice of audit" to Sager, Williams said: "Mr. Sager made an allegation that we have not responded to his request for assistance and that is not true.”

Sager said he has asked for clarification of account balances since Williams took office in January, and provided The Landmark with a copy of an email sent to Williams on Jan. 3. Williams says she never received it, stating her email account at the county was not established until after that date.

"It may all boil down to there was a big misunderstanding," Williams said, referencing the January email she says she never received.

Sager says his goal is simple.

"What I'm trying to do is make sure that I've got accurate information to work with going forward," Sager remarked.

As a related front page story reports, the county has hired an outside auditor at a cost of $7,500 to determine proper cash balances of the road sales tax revenue and the park sales tax account as well.