Hawkins receives second 'clean' audit from state Comptroller in three years

Jeff Bobo • Feb 18, 2020 at 1:45 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County mayor’s office received notice Friday from the Tennessee comptroller’s officer that there are no negative findings in the county’s 2018-19 fiscal year audit, which will be released to the public Tuesday.

County Mayor Jim Lee, Road Superintendent Lowell Bean, Director of Schools Matt Hixson, the county mayor’s Budget Director Eric Buchanan, and the School Department’s Budget Director Melissa Farmer have already received copies of the 2018-19 audit.

“I want to say that I am very proud of my staff,” Lee told the Times News on Monday. “They work hard every day and this is proof.”

Hawkins County’s 2018-19 fiscal year Audit report will be available for inspection by the public Tuesday, on the Tennessee Comptroller website at https://comptroller.tn.gov/office-functions/la.html

Hawkins County had no negative findings on the 2015-16 audit, which was the county’s first-ever clean audit based on records available at the time.

Two negative findings last year

The previous year’s 2017-18 Hawkins County audit had two findings, one of which was a $64,000 shortfall in the county school system due to alleged theft by former Rogersville Water Superintendent Shawn Hatchett.

The second finding last fiscal year was an “accounting deficiency” in the sheriff’s office that was corrected immediately after the 2017-18 audit was released last year in February.

One negative finding in 2016-17

In May 2017, the State Department of Education informed the Hawkins County School Department that the school department had not met the maintenance of effort compliance requirements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, by either total expenditures or per pupil expenditures.

The amount by which the maintenance of effort was decreased totaled $89,374.

Annual audit suggestion

Although it’s not a negative finding, the state auditor annually suggests that Hawkins County adopt a central system of accounting. Currently the county mayor’s office and the county school system operate with separate accounting systems.

“Hawkins County does not have a central system of accounting and budgeting,” the audit report states. “Sound business practices dictate that establishing a central system would significantly improve internal controls over the accounting and budgeting processes. The absence of a central system of accounting and budgeting has been a management decision by the county commission resulting in decentralization and some duplication of effort.”

The audit report further states, “The Division of Local Government Audit strongly believes that the adoption of a central system of accounting and budgeting is a best practice that would significantly improve accountability and the quality of services provided to the citizens of Hawkins County.”