Auditor seeks clerk records

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; The state auditor’s office has issued subpoenas for bank records in an investigation of the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s office.

Records of deposits, along with copies of checks, money orders and bank documents, were requested for accounts in Circuit Clerk M.L. &uot;Binkey&uot; Vines’ name at Britton & Koontz and United Mississippi banks.

The UMB deposits, made in 2002 and 2003, total $253,456, while the B&K deposits, made in 2003, total $60,144.

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A spokesman for the auditor’s office said the office could not comment on ongoing investigations.

Vines said the case relates to an audit of his office.

&uot;They’re finishing up their investigation,&uot; he said.

Vines said the deposits refer to money he personally put into the circuit clerk’s account to help bolster the office’s finances in months when fees were down.

Vines said he did not know how much money he has put into the account.

The auditor’s spokesman could not comment on Vines’ claim that he has put personal funds into the county account.

Vines, who is in his second term, was first elected in 1998.

Last year, a county audit revealed several problems in the circuit clerk’s office, including what local independent auditors referred to as &uot;in effect Š unauthorized loans to the circuit clerk.&uot;

According to the audit, settlements to the circuit clerk for 2003 totaled $207,960.50 more than what was due to him, according to account journals.

In the audit, Vines said the settlements were made in error and the money had been reimbursed and he had notified the state auditor on his own volition.

Other problems in the audit included understated fees and overstated expenses, which resulted in the overcompensation to Vines $17,921.73 over the cap limitation he is allowed to receive by state law.

In the audit, Vines said he was reviewing the determinations regarding undocumented or disallowed expenses.

&uot;Documentation will be provided to the State Auditor’s office on these items as quickly as possible,&uot; Vines’ response in the audit stated. &uot;Any amount which remains disallowed will be paid to the general fund of the county immediately. Any errors in properly maintaining the fee journal were totally unintentional. I have installed a new accounting program and hired a financial consultant. These steps should alleviate past problems.&uot;