County seeks more ‘extensive’ audit

Published 9:36 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office will perform a “more extensive audit” for Carter County in the wake of the August resignation of the former finance director.

Carolyn Watson, current finance director, said the state office did not recommend a third-party external audit. “So I have asked them to do a more extensive audit than what they had originally planned,” Watson told the finance committee on Monday. “I shared with them what the concerns were and (that) the main reason was to put everyone’s mind at ease that there was no fraud or misappropriations.”

Carter County Financial Management Committee chairman Brad Johnson said the reason county leaders asked the comptroller’s office to “go deeper” was because of the way the former finance director left the county “holding the bag and not knowing.” Former finance director Brad Burke abruptly resigned on Aug. 25 during a commission meeting, however Watson said there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

“I have not seen anything of that nature and they have not seen anything of that nature in prior audits, but they will go through and check,” Watson said. “I asked them to do more extensive on internal controls and anything related to cash coming in and out the door. They have agreed to do that.”

Auditors are expected to be on site later this month. “I do not know how long they will be on site,” Watson said. “They will be a little longer this time.”

“The comptroller’s office assured me that since the former director was an auditor, they will check behind him more thoroughly,” Watson said. “We have had several conversations about it and they stated they would be more stringent.”

The committee also discussed purchasing new software, citing issues with what the prior financial director was using and the state in which the records were found when Watson took over. “Upon exiting, it was all deleted leaving nothing for the new finance director to reference,” Johnson said.

Watson said she is seeking software recommendations from other finance managers and is researching whether another version of the current software would help eliminate issues.

Watson said she and IT personnel have been working to retrieve information from the laptop and jump drives used by Burke. In doing so, she is working to write a policy for the finance department to follow a new procedure in saving information, including completing daily backups.

“Everything that I do is backed up on the server everyday,” Watson stated. “I don’t know if that is a policy that we should create or not. The accounting software will be backed up to the Cloud. All the information will be there.”