“We look forward to implementing the state auditor’s recommendations,” Steve Crosswhite, Sturgeon mayor, told the Fireside Guard, Christmas Eve, the morning after the Sturgeon Board of Aldermen’s first public meeting after the release of the State Auditor’s report on the city’s misspent funds.
Crosswhite said the audience at the December 23 meeting seemed receptive and “Satisfied and interested in the plan we have to comply with the auditor’s recommendations. I look forward to our improving our procedure and complying with the auditor’s recommendations.”
He said they are working with the Central Bank of Boone County to return the funds belonging to Mount Horeb Cemetery.
The auditor’s report said the previous mayor, Danny Joiner, and that board of aldermen inadvertently used to purchase a new truck for the city. “I don’t see what difference that makes. No one was mindful that we were violating any rules at the time.”
“Everyone thought they were doing the correct thing.” Crosswhite said a money-market account has been started in which the original misspent $25,000 has been deposited.
“Money spent on the truck will be reimbursed,” he said. “As each Mount Horeb CD redeems we will deposit it in the interest-bearing money market account which is for Mount Horeb only… As the CDs redeem and we will eventually have one CD for Mount Horeb, not several.”
That aspect of the remedy should be complete by April 2020, he said.
One change he said city staff would be making in lieu of the audit’s findings is: “From now on we will be making sure records are kept of receipts that leave an ample trail, tracking in place.”
That is in response to the auditor’s office finding regarding the city’s accounting records: “The city did not maintain accurate accounting records. The city implemented a new accounting system in April 2019. However, city officials did not ensure current year receipts and disbursements were accurately transferred into the new system. Therefore, fund balances in the new accounting system for the year ended June 30, 2019, were not accurate when compared to recorded current year activity and prior year ending balances.”
Crosswhite said the changes would make verification simpler.
“Having that system in place will make it easier to verify we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.”
Regarding the situation, the following statements attributed to the board of aldermen were included in the state auditor’s report.
“Although the city disagrees that it did not have documentation to support the city’s claim that some CDs had been erroneously placed in the Mt. Horeb Cemetery Fund in prior years, the city nevertheless accepts and will implement the recommendation of the State Auditor’s Office, and will reimburse monies inappropriately deposited and credited to the General Revenue Fund back to the Mt. Horeb Cemetery Fund. Additionally, in the future, the Board will ensure only the interest income earned on the principal will be disbursed for cemetery upkeep and maintenance… The city will ensure that separate bank accounts for the Mt. Horeb Cemetery Fund and the Mt. Horeb Maintenance and Upkeep Fund are opened, and that these funds are separately maintained from all other funds to avoid commingling of assets. The city will implement a procedure to document into which fund’s account donated monies are to be deposited and maintained.”