Separation of duties in Franklin County needed when handling public cash

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMarch 14, 2014 

State auditors have also advised two other Franklin County departments that more separation of duties are needed when it comes to handling the public's cash.

The Washington State Auditor's Office issued two management letters in February suggesting the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and Benton Franklin Juvenile Court need to implement some changes to better protect the public's resources.

For juvenile court, the office manager posts receivable balances in the accounting system, reconciles them and reviews bank statements. And the same employee who receives the daily report on payments also posts payments to individual accounts and into the accounting system and reconciles them, according to a management letter.

For the county jail, one person prepares invoices, sends them out, receives the payments and submits payments to the county treasurer, according to a management letter.

Sheriff Richard Lathim said the state auditors do not understand how the sheriff's office works. Limited staffing prevents the segregation of duties all the time.

"We deal in the real world," Lathim said, adding that he does not think the public cares.

The management letter is just an opinion by the state auditors and doesn't mean the sheriff's office is doing anything wrong, Lathim said.

The office would have to spend $60,000 to $70,000 a year on additional staffing to avoid having someone do two things, Lathim said. The office's workload has increased while the staffing has not.

Darryl Banks, juvenile justice center administrator, told the Herald that they are reviewing the advice from the state auditor's office and will take the necessary steps to fix whatever needs fixing.

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