State Auditor Crit Luallen is questioning over $13,000 in expenses at Whitley County PVA Ronnie Moses office, but Moses says the questions arose out of changes in auditing procedures since the last review of his financial records.
The report criticized the commingling of public and private accounts for over $6,000 related to 911 mapping, and questioned nearly $7,000 in office related expenses.
“This report raises serious questions about the financial management of the Whitley County Office of Property Valuation Administrator. We will continue to monitor the situation in future reports and we hope to see improvements,” Luallen said in a press release.
“Reports like this highlight the important role the State Auditor plays as an independent watchdog of the taxpayers’ money.”
Luallen’s office also referred the matter to the Kentucky State Police for further investigation.
Joe Meyer, a senior policy advisor for the state auditor’s office, said that it is routine for the office to make such referrals, and that it would be up to police to decide if any charges would be appropriate.
“We don’t make judgments on those sorts of issues. The facts are what they are. It is for other people to take them and apply them to the law and decide what, if any, further action should be done,” Meyer said.
Moses said he’s not concerned about the matter being referred to the Kentucky State Police for investigation since he doesn’t think he has done anything criminal.
“There were new auditing procedures that we were not made aware of until after the fact. We are adhering to those 100 percent,” Moses said.
“We are just making sure every ‘I’ is dotted, and every “T” is crossed. We know that she is auditing, and we are going to do it her way.”
Commingling of money
Luallen released a report Thursday that questioned the commingling of public and private funds from Moses office, including: $6,831 for 911 mapping expenses that were deposited into an account titled “Ronnie Moses, PVA,” which Moses also used for personal business.
“The 911 mapping payments are official funds, as determined by the Kentucky Department of Revenue. However, the account in which they were deposited was a private account controlled by the PVA and used for his personal business transactions,” a report for Luallen’s office stated.
Meyer noted that there are strong prohibitions against commingling public and private funds and accounts.
“There is no doubt that the 911 money was actually considered a payment to the office, and not to the individual, and should have been put into an office account and not a private account,” Meyer said.
Moses said he still feels that the funds his office received from the fiscal court for updating the 911 addressing system should be kept separate from the rest of the funds for his office.
He added that the matter isn’t something his office can remedy since it hasn’t received any compensation for doing the 911 address changes for about one year.
“We still do it, but we don’t receive any compensation. I personally do the addresses and have done them for a long time,” Moses said.
“We felt like it should have been maintained separately from the PVA office account, and we did. After the fact we were told it shouldn’t have been, and that is where we are.”
Moses said the funds in that account were used to pay for expenses related to the 911 addressing, such as purchasing equipment and vehicle maintenance.
Luallen’s report also questions $6,923 in office expenditures, including: $4,000 in office credit card expenditures that lack proper documentation, $1,275 spent on advertisements not for educational purposes, and $1,100 on calendars for the public.
The report also questioned $500 to repair the PVA’s personal vehicle.
Meyer said that since there was no documentation, his office can’t say what the credit card expenses were for.
Meyer noted that the money spent on advertisements and calendars were not educational in the sense that the ads informed the public, but rather promoted the office holder.
Moses said he feels all the credit card and other expenditures were appropriate even if the all the paperwork might not have been up to existing standards.
He said the advertising expenditures questioned were for things, such as ads in school programs, and that his office has learned such expenses are no longer allowed.
“We do no advertising now,” he added.
Moses said his office had been told in the past that it was allowed to purchase things, such as calendars and ink pins for the public, with office funds, but have since been told that is not allowed if the elected official’s name is on the item.
“As long as you keep your name off of it, it’s allowable. Once you put your name on it, it’s not an allowable expense. I’m just not doing it at all now,” he said.
Moses said he’s not sure when the change took effect, but that he was informed after the fact.
Meyer said that in January 2006 there were guidelines established to help PVA’s determine what expenses were appropriate and inappropriate.
He said when the auditor asked Moses about the expenses, Moses told the auditor the expenses were “personal.”
Moses said the $500 in repairs were for the vehicle used to do 911 addressing by his office.
“It was just billed wrong, and we paid it wrong. We caught it, and corrected it,” he said. “It was a bookkeeping mistake, and I paid it out of my pocket.”
Not a full audit
The report isn’t a full audit, but an examination of some financial records from Moses’ office. The state auditor’s office reviews certain items in each PVA office once every four years. The items are agreed upon by the auditor’s office and the Revenue Cabinet, which oversees county PVA offices.
All PVA reports are sent to the Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet, which includes the Department of Revenue.
Luallen’s report covered the 2004-2005 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2004, through June 30, 2005.
The last review of the Whitley County PVA office records by the state auditor’s office was for the 1999-2000 fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 1999 through June 30, 2000.
The report on the 1999-2000 fiscal year covered only four items where the report on the 2004-2005 fiscal year covered nine items.
The report on the 1999-2000 fiscal year determined that receipt and disbursement ledgers were not maintained by Moses office, nor were monthly bank reconciliations.
“PVA acknowledges this. He will implement a formal program whereby receipts and disbursements ledgers are maintained and monthly reconciliations are prepared,” Moses response noted.
In the most recent review, auditors determined that the PVA now had a receipt and disbursement ledger, and that annual reconciliations were prepared in the check register, but did not agree to the book balance. Auditors recommended that the PVA reconcile bank records to the book balance each month.
“Have employed new bookkeeping methods that are reconciled each month,” Moses responded, according to the latest review.