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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Roberts County Fails State Audit: $765,000 Improperly Accounted

The Sissteon Area Blog posts the results of the state's audit of Roberts County. The results are... unsatisfactory. Auditor General Marty Guindon lists these five violations by Roberts County in a report dated March 16, 2010:

Finding No. 2008-01: Internal accounting controls over financial reporting for the years 2007 and 2008 were inadequate resulting in inaccurate information being presented to users of the annual financial reports.

Finding No. 2008-02: Internal accounting controls over monitoring of cash and fund balance were inadequate resulting in negative cash balances in the Road and Bridge Fund and Jail Construction Fund of $445,098.72 and $320,149.52, respectively, and deficit fund balances of $42,353.32 and $320,149.52, respectively, at Decmeber 31, 2008.

Finding No. 2008-03: Deficiencies were noted regarding internal accounting controls and record keeping resulting in diminished assurance that transactions were properly executed and recorded and assets were properly safeguarded.

Finding No. 2008-04: The county auditor did not prepare, publish or file with the Auditor General of the Department of Legislative Audit on a timely basis annual financial reports for the years ended December 31, 2007 and December 31, 2008 in violation of South Dakota Codified Laws (SDCL) 7-10-4. [Those reports are due March 1; Roberts County filed its 2007 report on June 17, 2008. As of the release of this audit, Roberts County had not yet filed its 2008 report.]

Finding No. 2008-05: The County did not comply with state laws related to the County's budgeting procedures. [The auidt cites overdrafts in the General Fund and Road and Bridge Fund, unapproved excess spending on the county jail, $520K in unauthorized supplemental funding on the Public Safety budgets, and overestimated revenue resulting in deficit in the Road and Bridge fund.]

Words you really don't want to hear in an audit: violation and did not comply. And check out Finding #2: the accounting was off by $765,000. That's a lot of money floating around with no one accounting for it. That's a lot of room for monkey business.

The Auditor General reviews the Roberts County financial statements and finds that Roberts County's expenditures, disclosures, and cash flows "are not reasonably determinable."

The Auditor General concludes:

In our opinion... the financial statements referred to above do not present fairly, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, the financial position of Roberts County, South Dakota, as of December 31, 2008 and 2007, or the changes in its financial position or its cash flows, where applicable, for the years then ended.

Roberts County Auditor Dawn Sattler apparently has some explaining to do to her neighbors around Sisseton... and to Pierre.


  1. .... And you point is What Cory?
    Is it the money or the incompetent or criminal or unprofessional behavior? Or is it that it was bad behavior by someone of the wrong political persuasion? Or do you just hate jails? If it's the money then you are complaining about someone watering their lawn on an odd day when they are supposed to do it on an even day.... and your Lord Obama is planting a bomb at the base of the dam. I think you've got your own splainin' to do Lucy.

    -Scott Burton

  2. Scott, take off the "I hate Obama" blinders. My point is the Auditor General's point: Roberts County is violating state law. That's important South Dakota news people should know about. Period.

  3. All of the problems were found in the same audit. It is certainly crappy accounting, and somebody's head should roll as far as losing their job. I'm not sure this would even be criminal though, or that you can claim there has been any monkey business, even if there is that potential. I also have absolutely no clue what the overall budget for the county is and how much $765k represents of either that or these specific Funds. Is it possible this is nothing more that a county auditor that is lousy at his job? If that is all it is, and the money in question is proportionately low why does it merit further attention?

  4. Wow: since when do the Burtons become apologists for bad government? Oh, apparently, since this blog says something about it.

    If Roger had read the report, he'd have seen that Roberts County reported revenues of $4.8 million and $5.0M and expenditures of $6.8M and $10.9M in 2008 and 2007. now depending on which way you slice it, $765 would be more than 7% of two years' worth of revenue. If Pierre or Washington failed to account for proportionate amounts (at the federal level, that would be, what, $300 billion?), Roger and Scott would be screaming for impeachment.

    This story isn't about ideology or the usual arguments we get into here on the blog. It matters and merits further attention because at least one county official, maybe more, has not just done lousy work but had broken state law and the public trust. South dakotans should be disgusted, and the voters of Roberts County should take swift action.

  5. All of the problems were not found in the same audit. The RC auditor failed to submit audits for 4 years...yes four years!
    Check the state legislative audit done for RC for the years 2005 and 2006 and you find the same results, the same violations.
    Shame on the RC auditor and shame on the RC commissioners for doing nothing about this mess. But more shame on the RC voter if this same auditor (who has filed for reelection) gets voted back into office this fall.
    Is it a mere coincidence that all the commissioners who were up for reelection have quit? Should they get off that easily?
    Cliff B


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