County Judge/Executive proud of ‘perfect’ audit

Posted June 29, 2022 at 10:55 am

Clinton County Judge/Executive Ricky Craig is proud, and along with some members of his staff, wanted to tell everyone about it.

In a rare instance for any county, large or small, the Clinton County Fiscal Court’s most recent year audit report ending June 30, 2021 revealed a “perfect” report, with not one deficiency of any type found by the State Auditor’s office.

Judge Craig, who served as a Clinton County Magistrate for 16 years (four terms) and is in his fourth year as judge/executive, said that in all those years, the fiscal court had never received a spotless audit report.

The judge, however, was quick to not take any credit himself for the audit findings, or in this case “non-findings,” but said the effort was total “teamwork.”

He credited much of the success to his office staff, County Treasurer Cindy Thrasher and Administrative Assistant Kelly Abston. But he also commended all fiscal court members, and county department heads for keeping updated and accurate records.

Abston said about the audit, “There are no ‘titles’ in this office, only ‘teamwork.’”

She also noted all county department heads kept up with Purchase Orders and those have to have all correct information, or they would be tagged by the auditors.

Items such as purchase orders have to meet all state requirements, and “we follow those,” added Thrasher. “Everything has to be correct on invoices, etc., including signatures and they are checked and double-checked prior to approval.”

Thrasher said state auditors combed through all the county records “in-person” for about a three or four day period, but much of the process is now done online as well. That time frame, however, takes longer ifdiscrepancies are found.

“If they (auditors) don’t find anything wrong, it shortens the time to do the audit,” the county treasurer said.

Judge Craig said that the majority of the time, auditors will find what is called “segregation of duties,” especially in smaller counties that cannot afford to hire more staff. That was not the case in the Clinton Fiscal Court audit ending last year.

Craig said, “This shows the fine job (the office staff) has done. We look at every paper and know exactly what is going where before it is signed off on.”

Thrasher also said the audit report that was released during the first year of the current administration had already been completed the prior year for release, and the discrepancies found in that report were corrected beginning with the following fiscal year.

“I’m just so happy compared to where we have been, compared to where we are now,” Craig stated.

He said the county judge’s office and the fiscal court have been totally transparent and want people to know what is going on. “It’s tax dollars we are responsible for” and the county funds are looked over 100 percent.

“We don’t spend sometimes, I’m a little conservative,” the judge added.

Neither Craig nor his staff members knew exactly how many of Kentucky’s 120 counties had received a totally clean audit report for the past fiscal year, but guessed it was only a small percentage.

Craig said he thought neighboring Cumberland County may have received a totally clean report, but thought their audit was conducted by a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) rather than the State Auditor’s office.

Abston also noted that there has to be a “paper trail” for everything the county is responsible for financially, down to advertising costs, postage, and so forth.

Craig said he also felt the magistrates, county employees and others were proud to know they had been audited for the 2020-21 fiscal year and not one discrepancy was found.

Thrasher said that audits require many details and the county did everything 100 correct the past year and “were striving for the same report next year.”

“The audit showed we were doing what we we’re supposed to do,” the judge noted.

Thrasher also briefly discussed another key element in why the clean audit meant so much: the year it was conducted was during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We faced a lot of challenges with COVID and extra funding, for example, (ARPA) and other federal and state funds that were being funneled to cities and counties to help fight the pandemic economically.”

She concluded that she was proud because everyone had worked together, saying they did not work for themselves, “we work for the county.”