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Cherokee County Audit Results

Cherokee County leaders are searching for answers after an audit reveals they don't know how much money they have.
CHEROKEE COUNTY, KS.--- "Every year we have a procedural audit done and every year the same things keep coming up on the audit," said Richard Hilderbrand, Cherokee County Commissioner.

For the past 12 years, audits have cited a lack of control in Cherokee County's accounting procedures.

"Deposits aren't made in a timely manner, cash receipts/check receipts aren't always matching up," said Hilderbrand. 

Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand says the commission has passed several resolutions in the last two years to make sure workers are handling funds properly. The problem has remained prominent. So, commissioners requested an internal control audit to see what other rules can be implemented. The report showed the problem is definitely not fading away. Auditors found $361,000 in the county's bank account, which were not properly documented in the books.

"There's $167,000 that's not identified," said Hilderbrand. 

Treasurer Juanita Hodgson admits deposits aren't taken to the bank daily as they should, but are written in the books, which results in inconsistency. Hodgson also say she's confident all money is accounted for, stating there were a couple of transaction that were put in the account but not written in the manual check registry.

"I'm almost positive, I haven't had the chance to complete all the numbers, but that is pretty close to the amount that was the difference," said Juanita Hodgson, Cherokee County Treasurer. 

County Councilor Kevin Cure says the county is hiring a firm to conduct an intensive audit to reconcile bank statements and to determine where the $167,000 came from.

"No one suspects that something inappropriate has occurred, as far as misappropriation of assets, but we do need to know to the penny what is the exact balance in those accounts," said Kevin Cure, Cherokee County Councilor. 

New resolutions are also being drafted. For example, reducing the independence elected officers like the treasurer have when running their department.

"If they don't follow it, then they may be more accountable to the voters for not doing the controls that are needed to assure we have accurate finances in this county," said Hilderbrand. 

Fixing the problem is coming at a cost. The first audit cost the county about $20,000. The upcoming report will cost an estimated $50,000. 
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