LEBANON – A state audit has revealed a number of “noncompliance” issues involving millions of tax dollars in 2019. Follow-up by an independent contractor found the money was in the millions because the issues had been ongoing since mid-2017.

Based on a supplemental report by the Indiana State Board of Accounts completed last September, these were the instances of verifiable noncompliance based on state code that needed to be addressed.

• Monthly financial reports were never reconciled between the auditor and treasurer’s office for all of 2019;
• The discrepancy between these two offices was almost $8 million in what the auditor accounted for and actual cash balance according to the treasurer;
• The auditor did not record more than $13 million in receipts and more than $10 million in payouts; and
• The auditor neglected to do proper reporting or collecting financial statements on specific funds from the clerk and the sheriff’s offices.

In 2019, the auditor was Heather Myers and the treasurer was Debbie Ottinger. The report said the receipts for the county on the required annual report were understated by $13 million and the auditor misstated the amount paid out for the year by more than $10 million.

“The 2019 Annual Financial Report submitted by the County contained material misstatements in receipts and disbursements,” the public report stated. “The submitted annual financial report by the county did not contain required financial activity for the Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Sheriff, and County Treasurer offices.”

Boone County attorney Bob Clutter said the “substantial variances” were “concerning” to members of the county council and commissioners, and they immediately decided to hire a former auditor and treasurer.

The Boone County Commissioners contracted Deanna Willhoite, who was elected as auditor in 2012 and now works for Andretti Motorsports. Clutter said she was hired last September, immediately after an exit interview with state officials.

“She has been working assiduously since then, reconciling the books,” Clutter wrote in an email to The Lebanon Reporter. “We recently met to get an update on her progress and were impressed with the amount of work she has accomplished and what her findings have revealed to date.”

He added that Willhoite has not found any questionable activity in her work. Myers overpaid herself $1,600 beyond the salary ordinance in 2019, but returned that money. She resigned the auditor’s position last February.

“The errors that led to the discrepancies were generally the result of improper accounting practices and the failure of the auditor to monthly reconcile the transactions with the treasurer,” Clutter wrote. “Ms. Willhoite noted that the improper account entries (or failure of such) began in the summer of 2017, so she has reviewed all county financial transactions from that date forward.”

He noted that some of the discrepancies were due to employee turnover and improper training of replacements.
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