Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Indiana State Board of Accounts Unfair to Clark County Government

HARBESON: Is this something you audit know?

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Clark County audit reports from the Indiana State Board of Accounts for 2008 are now available. However, you should definitely not read them because they are completely unfair to Clark County Government officials.

First of all, the state board claims county government has a lack of internal controls, something they say helps assure that money is being budgeted, appropriated and spent according to law. Phooey.

Internal controls are completely unnecessary. A system that only exists due to coercion always operates effectively and ethically.

I’m with Clark County Commissioners President Ed Meyer, who says they’ve been relying on the offices to regulate themselves. Government entities need no oversight — that’s only necessary for those risking their own funds in the competitive private sector, not government officials handling other people’s money.

Ed says he doesn’t think the commissioners should get involved in the operations of county departments. Right on Ed! None of us expect commissioners, who are the executive body for the county, to actually oversee the county. Ed knows we only want him to focus on the important issues, like passing cell phone messages through the local gossip mill.

However, since the commissioners were implicated in these reports, they have made a brilliant decision to, as Ed says, “get out of this predicament.” It’s an ingenious idea: Spend more money and hire someone else to do the job.

After all, like Jack Coffman, president of the current county council says, “it’s just so hard.” He’s right. They can’t be expected to actually know what’s in the Indiana Code as it pertains to their jobs.

For goodness sakes, no one discusses such minor details during election campaigns. They only tell us the important stuff, like how they love living here and just want to give back to the community as “public servants.”

And what’s with the state admonishing county departments for not having a process to communicate well? Why would those who budget and appropriate funds need to know what’s going on with those who handle the funds? When I heard this stupid idea, I spit a mouthful of lunch on my unreconciled bank statements.

But now, as a result of these reports, the county auditor will prepare monthly reports so the council and commissioners know what’s going on. Ridiculous.

I’m sure the auditor has much better things to do than actually keeping tabs on the fiscal matters of Clark County. Who cares if unappropriated money is spent, especially when it’s for vital government services, like sheriff’s public relations?

I can’t believe the reports were so critical of not using detailed expenditure accounts either. A budget classification of “other services and charges” could not possibly increase the county’s risk for misappropriation.

This next item was really silly: The state board said proper procedures were not in place to determine that correct amounts were paid on invoices. Gee whiz, a little over payment to vendors here and there is no problem. It stimulates the economy.

According to the reports, money spent from the drug and alcohol fund was not properly spent while Steve Fleece was in charge of Clark’s Superior Court No. 3, but I just don’t see it. For example, it’s easy to understand why he recommended spending money on new carpet using this fund. Many drunken people have puked on carpets, so an association clearly exists.

Also, his recommendation to donate government money from this fund to a local church for items unrelated to the purpose of the fund makes sense too. This cozy intertwining of religion and government has worked out well throughout human history.

I’m sure you’ve heard enough by now to be convinced that you should not read these reports — the ones that are at www.in.gov/sboa. Besides, county officials assure us that if there were problems in 2008, they have now been resolved. So you should believe them and not read these reports — the ones available at www.in.gov/sboa .

— Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson stopped cleaning lunch off her bank statements after she realized it’s a great way to hide misappropriated funds from her husband.

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