Chesterton Tribune

State reports accounting snafus in county clerk records for 2010

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The Indiana State Board of Accounts (SBOA) released a new audit of the Porter County Clerk’s office, citing several discrepancies during the year of 2010 when the office was managed by Democrat Pamela Mishler Fish.

According to the audit filed on March 23, the clerk’s bank reconcilements presented for the audit contained several errors. The documents showed several adjustments dating back to 2008 and unidentified adjustments which were not corrected. A list of outstanding checks totaled $538,870 on Dec. 31, 2010, said the SBOA who states in the audit “all local investment officers shall reconcile at least monthly the balance of public funds.”

The SBOA said it found adjustments in May 2011 that were originally not there before and that personnel could not offer any documentation for them.

“It appears that the adjustments were arbitrarily eliminated from the 2011 bank reconcilements,” the audit said.

In regards to the clerk’s trust fund, funds in the cash book had a difference of $1,511,130.74 with the computerized trust register due to errors. The manual trust register was found not to be reconciled to the cash book.

The SBOA said clerks should reconcile the Trust Fund register with the cash book and the daily balance record.

In addition the SBOA criticized the clerk’s office in Portage for not collecting a document storage fee of $2 and the automated record keeping fee of $7 on pretrial diversion cases.

Fish told the Chesterton Tribune on Thursday this is not a case where money was taken from the office and said there was an overage amount of $125 when she finished her term.

Fish said the discrepancies are the result of her office’s effort to automate records in the computer system. When she took office in January 2008, all records had been written out by shorthand and her staff made it their goal to place all the data into the computerized trust fund, mirroring the same approach as the Tippecanoe County Clerk’s office.

Many of the kept records from her predecessor were difficult to process due to the poor legibility of the handwritten notes.

“It was a nightmare,” she said. “But we got it accomplished in those three years.”

She said her office was 80 percent complete with the automation on her last day of office and said the project essentially “died on the line” when current Republican County Clerk Karen Martin took over in 2011.

Current County Clerk Karen Martin, in her official response to the audit, said it was “disheartening” to learn the clerk’s trust account had not been balanced since June 2007 and asked the state to help in balancing the account by having the previous clerks assist them or hire an outside party with previous clerks responsible for paying the balance.

She said bank reconciliations were in fact done on a monthly basis prior to June 2011 and reconciled with the bank statements again in compliance with state statutes.

Regarding the document and record storage fees, Martin said as of July 1, 2011, the fees were changed to be in compliance with state regulations.



Posted 3/30/2012