State Auditor Nicole Galloway released an audit of the Clay County Collector’s office. The report, which gave an overall rating of “good,” is the fourth released as part of an ongoing audit of Clay County that was initiated through a citizen petition. Previously released audits of the County Clerk, Recorder, and Public Administrator gave the same rating.
One finding concerning tax sale services, which were provided by an outside vendor in connection with the County Collector’s annual sale of properties with delinquent property taxes. The audit found the Collector did not properly procure tax sale services, always ensure invoiced amounts for those services were appropriate prior to payment, or maintain adequate supporting documentation for disbursements to the vendor. In one instance, the State Auditor’s Office requested additional supporting documentation for a $33,000 invoice paid by the county for tax sale services. The Collector then contacted the vendor who determined the payment had been misapplied. As a result, the county is now due a $33,000 credit.
The report also discussed how written contracts could not be found for one city and one village for tax billing and collection services, and that the Collector authorized disbursements of public funds to a national tax collectors association for purposes that did not appear to be necessary and beneficial to the administration and operation of the Collector’s office.
The audit of Clay County was initiated after a citizen petition was submitted to the State Auditor’s Office and then verified to have more than the minimum 5,590 signatures of county residents who are registered voters. The Clay County Commission filed a lawsuit last year to prevent the Auditor from conducting the citizen-mandated audit, but a court ruling dismissed the lawsuit and confirmed the Auditor’s legal authority. In a second case, the Clay County Circuit Court in October 2020 affirmed the Auditor’s authority to access routine records and information associated with the audit. The County Commission has appealed both rulings.
The full audit report on the Clay County Collector can be found here. Audit work is ongoing for other Clay County offices.