Outside auditor sought for TRAC in Pasco

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldApril 2, 2014 


March 15, 2014 - An ATM cash machine at the TRAC facility in Pasco is one of the items of concern listed in a report that the state auditor issued to Franklin County.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

PASCO -- Franklin County commissioners want to hire an outside auditor to review finances at TRAC.

They asked County Administrator Fred Bowen at Wednesday's meeting to look into the costs of hiring an auditor after TRAC general manager Troy Woody asked them to consider making a part-time box-office supervisor full time.

A recent state auditor's office report criticized TRAC for having its finance manager single-handedly request and receive cash for its ATMs, fill the machines and reconcile the cash to bank statements and the accounting system.

TRAC has moved the finance manager off some duties, such as overseeing the counting of money from events and signing on checking and savings accounts, in response to the report, Woody said. The finance manager now focuses on auditing bank statements and paperwork.

"What it's done is created a problem where now somebody else has to pick up that workload," Woody said.

Making the box-office supervisor full time would give TRAC two office people who can deal with cash issues, he said.

Commissioner Brad Peck suggested lowering pay for the finance manager, since she now has fewer duties, to offset the cost of making the box-office supervisor full time.

But the finance manager now has to do tasks that weren't being done before, including internal auditing, Woody said. He has asked the county auditor's office "multiple times" in recent years for help with audits and evaluating procedures, he added.

"They seem to have a lack of time to do that, and I understand that," he said. "That's clearly something that needs to be done."

County Auditor Matt Beaton was on vacation Wednesday and didn't attend the meeting.

Commissioner Rick Miller said the county should hire an independent auditor to look at the financial situation at TRAC before the county considers moving forward with personnel changes.

Such an audit would make sure TRAC has control of its money, while also maximizing the efficiency of its staff, Peck said. That differs from the state auditor's report, which reviews the county compared to set policies and procedures.

Commissioners also approved an agreement with The ATM Guy of Renton to operate the ATMs at TRAC. The contract with the company calls for it to charge a minimum fee of $2.50 per transaction, but Woody recommended that it charge $3, which TRAC now charges on the machines, which it has been operating itself. The county will keep 40 percent of the fee.

Commissioners added a stipulation to the contract that would require The ATM Guy to pay for any repairs to the machines.

Also Wednesday:

-- Commissioners expressed frustration with the slow process of installing $1.1 million in new software designed to prevent internal theft. The software became a priority after Dennis Huston, Franklin County Public Works' former accounting and administrative director, was arrested in early 2012 for embezzling more than $2.8 million in county money.

The county first discussed replacing the software in early 2012.

Kevin Scott, Information Services director, said he hopes to have some of the software up and running by the end of summer, adding that having staff to install the software in the county treasurer's office has been the biggest obstacle.

Peck suggested using money from a $62,000 contingency fund to pay for contract or temporary help to assist with installation.

-- Larry Hueter, project manager for construction of the county's new jail, said the new portion of the jail will get its certificate of occupancy this week. That includes 208 new beds, new sheriff's offices and Pasco Municipal Court.

The project remains on its $19.5 million budget and is scheduled for substantial completion Sept. 4, Hueter said. Work on the front portion of the existing jail, which is being renovated, is almost complete, so demolition can soon begin on the west, or back, part of the jail.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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