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Letters to the Editor

 

August 26, 2020



The letter to the Editor in last weeks paper signed by Larry Lekse, Bryan Adolph, Sue Olson, and Mike Kilby was lengthy, but told little about the root problem of our current (2019-2020) situation- the 2015 audit. However, the comments they did make only raise more questions and concerns.

What happens within the County government can be dependent on actions from previous years- this can affect the department operations and finances. An audit reports actions that are not acceptable with accounting practices and those that have violated the MCA (laws). They make recommendations to correct the issues. If audits are not done- the same mistakes continue. As the past Commissioners’ letter stated- it is the Commissioners’ responsibility to make sure the audits are done, and they should have added, “ Correctly and ON TIME”. The MCA states the time schedule for contracting and reporting a final audit.

The 2015 audit (according to the State webpage) was due 3/31/2016. Who were the Commissioners in 2016? The 2015 audit was not even contracted until 2018. And, in fact, the 2013-14 was not submitted on time either (as stated in the audit). It was submitted in 2017. The 2011-12 and 2013-14 audits recommended more financial management, training, and review of accounting practices and MCA codes, because of the existing issues. Who were the Commissioners these years?

In May 2017, Adam Carlson (as DES coordinator) reminded the Accounting Office of the importance of timely audit reporting in regards to various forms of funding to the County.

In June 2017- #3 on the Commissioner’s agenda was to address the 2013-14 audit. This was tabled by Commissioners. The same afternoon- Commissioner Borner made a motion to establish a regular meeting with the Accounting Dept. Commissioners Berry and Goffena voted against this recommendation (motion). At this same meeting – the Hawk Creek fire dept. expressed a concern about their budget.

While the majority ruled – Commissioner Borner understood the Commissioners responsibility and accountability regarding the finances of the County and she didn’t give up.

In March 2018- she again addressed the finances.(see the Commissioner’s minutes) She noted that they never got to sit down and have a facts and findings from audits, she expressed concerns about the past due audits, the past due annual financial reports, late fees being assessed and what accounts the fees were being paid out of. Commissioner Goffena said they didn’t need to micromanage the accounting office. And at the 3 oclock meeting, #9 on the agenda- to discuss the County audits and other financial questions –(with 11 attendees present) was tabled by Commissioner Berry and Goffena.

Why were the two Commissioners so unwilling to publicly discuss all aspects of the finances? Why weren’t the audits being done? If there were problems- why weren’t the two Commissioners accepting responsibility to oversee the issues and assist the Accounting office? On 3/23/2020- Musselshell County was the only County in the State to be listed as Delinquent for both the 2015, and the 2016-17 audits( state website)

In 2018- Adam Carlson submitted his name to run for Commissioner as a Republican. Commissioner Goffena collected signatures and attempted to file as an Independent for Commissioner again. Since he was a seated Commissioner as a Republican, he would have violated the MCA code and, the Commissioner of Political Practices stepped in.

In 2019, Adam Carlson replaced Commissioner Goffena. There was now a majority vote (Commissioners Carlson and Borner) to take action on the delinquent audits and reports, and put our County back in good standing.

The past Commissioners’ letter didn’t address the many issues that, then surfaced from the past, and the actions taken to correct them (all in the 2019 minutes):

There was an investigation.

There was a resignation.

Treasurer, Clerk and Recorder, and Commissioners attended Budget trainings

There was discussion on new procedures for processing claims, proper signature procedures, check processing, posting claims, etc

There were numerous meetings with auditors.

A BCC investigation into the creation of a (fake)non- existent grant.

Discussion of the discrepancy in reports to the Dept. of Administration, Dept of Revenue and the County.

Discrepancy over the balances in the School budgets.

Discovery of payments taken out of the wrong budgets.

And the fact that the State recommended the Commissioners actions regarding the 2019 tax levy and budget process., since the audits were not completed and there were questions about the finances.

And when the audits were completed, there were more concerns. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT EVERYONE READ THE AUDITS! Due to the nature of the 2015 audit report- It should be up to each individual to read and interpret these findings themselves.

While the past Commissioners have stated that the 2015 audit does not show any indication of fraud- they did not mention that, in fact, the auditors could not express ANY opinion about the 2015 audit. The auditors filed a Disclaimer of Opinion for the 2015 audit.

When the 2015 audit was reported, there was talk from individuals who wanted to see an investigation into the finances after all audits were completed. The remaining and final audits were reported with the state on 6/30/2020 .They were posted to the public on 7/1/2020. The Musselshell County Republican Central Committee filed a complaint against Adam (for moving outside his district) with the County Attorney on 7/1/2020 and Adam was asked to resign on that next Monday- 7/6/2020.

All of the audits are available at the Courthouse. Or can be downloaded from the site- https://sfsd.mt.gov/LGSB/Local-Gov-Reports. Most of the other information came from the minutes or the MCA site.

I have tried not to express an opinion, but to share information that the Past Commissioners left out of their letter. It is extremely important the public start asking the questions and get real answers. The entire community was hurt by actions taken (or not taken) by past Commissioners- and two Commissioners took the fall and were put in the position of cleaning up a mess that was not their fault. So…. what if all the other Past Commissioners had done their job?

Deb Adolph

Roundup

 

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