County audit receives state recognition

Published 12:03 am Sunday, January 11, 2015

NATCHEZ — Adams County has received recognition from the state auditor’s office for the way it handles its books.

The county government recently received recognition for “achievement in reporting” from State Auditor Stacy Pickering.

In a letter to the county, Pickering wrote that his office has implemented a program to recognize county governments that maintain high standards of financial management.

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The recognition is determined during the county’s annual audit, the letter said. For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, Adams County’s audit had no material findings, weaknesses in internal controls, exceptions or purchase system violations.

Adams County Administrator Joe Murray said he was proud for the county to receive the recognition, and said he would frame the certificate that came with it in the county boardroom.

“I welcome the audit when it comes, because it tells you where your deficiencies are, and you can’t fix anything until someone tells you it is wrong,” Murray said. “When the state auditor’s office looks at it, they go over it with a fine-tooth comb before they certify it so your contracted auditor can give you the final draft.”

The key to the county’s clean audit has been taking recommendations of auditors seriously and putting safeguards in place, Murray said.

“A lot of it has to do with bookkeeping and reconciling statements, things as simple as putting down that the person who is writing checks should not be the person reconciling the books,” he said.

“In some small counties — and I consider Adams County a small county — that isn’t possible, but if someone is writing checks I tell them to send it down to bookkeeping to reconcile things.”

But Murray said the other component to the clean audit was putting the right people in the right places — for example, the county inventory clerk, who he said has helped the county keep better track of its physical assets.

Members of the board of supervisors echoed Murray’s praise of the county employees in relation to the audit.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins worked in the main county office for 24 years before she was elected, and said she has never seen the county receive a similar recognition.

“I am elated that this happened during the time I was in leadership,” she said. “I give the praise to the people we have put in leadership in the various departments, the people we have hired. Joe is a big part of this, but all departments are part of this. We picked our best-qualified people who could do the job and that’s what it shows — they did the job.”

Supervisor Calvin Butler said the board has moved to put controls in place whenever Murray has recommended them.

“The taxpayer has a board in place that is responsible and looking out for their money,” he said.

Supervisors Vice President Mike Lazarus said the board would continue to work to keep the county’s books clean.

“We have good employees and they are doing things right, and we will keep changing our practices and getting them tighter,” he said. “When the auditors make the recommendations, we will implement them.”