Originally created 03/20/01

Jury gives finance agency advice



Implementing an improved system of checks and balances in the city's finance department would improve security and streamline operations in that office, a Richmond County Grand Jury said in a presentment released Friday.

Grand jurors' recommendations for improvement echoed the findings of an internal auditor who probed the finance office at the request of Augusta Commissioners after former City Comptroller Lon Morrey was fired.

Internal auditor J.T. Cosnahan of Baird and Company told members of the commission's finance committee March 14 that a cash audit found no fraud, misappropriation of funds or malfeasance in the finance department. But the same audit showed that some transactions were not immediately recorded, leaving city accounts unbalanced.

The grand jury's recommendations for improving the finance office were in line with auditors' suggestions, including conducting daily collections reports to establish more safeguards.

Auditors recommended establishing policies and procedures so bank activity could be recorded and city bank accounts reconciled to the general ledger in a more timely manner.

Grand jurors also said finance employees' salaries should be examined so they are more in line with salaries in the private sector.

In addition to inspecting the finance department, the grand jury looked at the county's Probate Court, the Fourth Street Jail and the Augusta Detention Center on Phinizy Road. Both jail facilities and the court office received favorable reviews from the panel.

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.