Missouri State Auditor releases audit of Pemiscot County

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State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick released a report showing Pemiscot County has made progress in improving some areas of county government but still needs to increase the level of transparency and accountability in several others. The new audit once again gives the county a rating of “fair” and highlights the questionable use of a county credit card to purchase gift cards for a holiday party.

“I know county officials in Pemiscot County have worked in good faith to implement many of the recommendations made by past audits, but we continue to see areas that need improvement,” said Auditor Fitzpatrick. “Taxpayers deserve a government that is efficient and effective, and that can be trusted to safeguard their hard-earned tax dollars. I commend county officials for moving quickly to implement many of our recommendations and I urge them to continue to work diligently to give county residents the accountable and transparent government they deserve.”

The audit details how the county has failed to establish guidelines for the appropriate use of county credit cards. For the year ended December 31, 2022, the County Clerk used her county credit card to purchase 25 gift cards which were given as door prizes to employees attending a holiday party. The report also notes the County Sheriff made six credit card transactions without submitting any supporting documentation. The report recommends the county establish guidelines for the use of county credit cards, as well as a policy for food and gift purchases, which the county has indicated it has now implemented.

The audit also finds the County Collector needs to improve controls and procedures over the property tax system. The county had not adequately restricted access to the property tax system as the County Collector and her deputies had access rights in the property tax system allowing them to make changes to individual tax records and there was no independent review of changes made, including assessed valuation and tax changes in the system. Additionally, the County Collector and her deputies did not always use the actual date of receipt when recording payments and did not retain documentation for mailed-in payments. As a result, the County Collector did not always properly assess some taxpayers’ penalties, commissions, and fees for late payments.

The audit also found lacking controls and procedures in the offices of the County Sheriff, County Clerk, and County Treasurer. The report also recommends improved controls and procedures for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which failed to timely transmit $27,353 in victim restitution and $37,440 in related fees, almost all of which were collected from January to December 2022. Additional findings include inadequate electronic data security, inadequate records management and retention policy for electronic communication, and a failure to timely submit the 2022 and 2021 county budgets to the State Auditor’s Office per state law.

The report notes that after audit fieldwork was completed, the county detected fraudulent activity committed by a third party in the county’s primary bank account. County personnel took immediate action to investigate the issue and have now implemented a positive pay system with the bank to help detect any fraudulent transactions and prevent them from processing. The bank has reimbursed the county for all fraudulent transactions identified as of December 31, 2023.

previous audit of Pemiscot released in 2019 also gave Pemiscot County a rating of “fair.” A complete copy of the current audit of Pemiscot County is available here.

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