Sheriff's department budget raises no red flags

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By Sharon Graves


The News-Democrat

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Department again passed its state audit with flying colors.

In a news release last week, state Auditor Crit Luallen issued reports on the audit of the sheriff’s tax account and the audit of the fee account used to operate the office.

This audit found that the financial statement presents fairly the revenues, expenditures and excess fees of Sheriff Ben Smith’s office and conforms with the regulatory basis of accounting. The auditor noted no instance of noncompliance and found no “material weaknesses” involving internal control over financial reporting and operation.

A “material weakness” is defined as anything that would cause errors or inaccuracies in a financial statement, said Beth Francis of the state auditor’s office. Francis oversees audits conducted of Carroll County government agencies.

An example, she said, would be if the same person who opens the mail and posts receipts also  made bank deposits without the benefit of a second set of eyes verifying the work that has been done.

“It is necessary to have internal controls for the prevention and detection of error and fraud,” Francis said.

The sheriff’s responsibilities include collecting property taxes, providing law enforcement in the county and performing services for the fiscal court and courts of justice. Fees from these services fund the sheriff’s budget. According to the report, excess fees increased by $37,587 from the prior year for a total of $53,895 as of Dec. 31. Salaries are the largest part of the budget, totaling $161,704; the department spends $46,547 for health insurance and $23,908 for gasoline.

“We have had four or five audits and they have all come back real good,” Smith said.