Archuleta County audit raises questions | SummitDaily.com

Archuleta County audit raises questions

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

DURANGO- A forensic audit in Archuleta County has turned up evidence of porn and gaming sites on county computers and lax accounting practices, The Durango Herald reported.A report by the accounting firm Clifton Gunderson LLP found no fraud but identified questionable accounting practices and behavior by some employees, the newspaper reported. The county released the report last week.Commissioners said the audit failed to provide conclusive answers to the county’s financial troubles. Commissioner Bob Moomaw said a second auditing team has been hired to help determine how the county entered into such financial woe.The county has struggled with a multimillion-dollar deficit arising from accounting irregularities dating back to 1999 and has overspent every year since then, except for one. It was late filing its annual audit with the state for three straight years, prompting the state to freeze the county’s ability to spend property-tax revenue.Since March, the county has cut at least $5.9 million from its budget, suspended several programs and projects, and cut at least 60 jobs.Commissioners said the Finance Department and Treasurer’s Office failed to communicate and reconcile finances properly, resulting in years of overspending. Moomaw said the county is working with a balanced budget this year.The audit made a number of findings, including that former finance director Bob Burchett apparently deleted information from a computer hard drive, which made reconciling funds difficult. “Our analysis of the drive also shows that existing e-mails are mainly junk or humor-related messages – there is very little substantive information present,” the report said.Burchett could not be reached for comment. Commissioner Rhonda Zaday said Burchett was fired in March.The report said an analysis of the county’s computer server found a “considerable amount of pornography and some indications of gaming site usage.” At least one employee has been disciplined, Moomaw said.From March 2003 to July 2007, the audit said, the county spent $780,000 on “donations or contributions.” Counties are prohibited by law from donating to certain nonprofits, but auditors did not determine whether any state laws were violated. Commissioners were investigating.The audit also found the county circumvented its $1 million check limit by writing checks for $999,999.99, $999,999 and $999,000. The checks appeared to have gone to the school district but were transferred “in a poorly documented fashion,” the report said.Clifton Gunderson charged $265,000 for the audit, of which the county has paid $101,000.—Information from: Durango Herald, http://www.durangoherald.com