County Board Asks for Audit of Sheriff's Department

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Published on December 26 2013 3:30 pm
Last Updated on December 26 2013 3:47 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham County Board has hired West and Company to conduct a specific audit of the Effingham County Sheriff's Department.

The 8-0 vote came at a special meeting Thursday morning.  Board member Joe Thoele was out of town with his family and could not attend.

A statement from the Board said items of concern include, but are not limited to, the amount of county funds spent on a high band radio system instead of a STARCOM 21 system, alleged discrepancies in procedures at the sheriff's department, and instances of alleged misconduct in the administration of the sheriff's department.

Board Chairman Jim Niemann said Thursday morning, "We thought we had a solution in place and it fell through."  Niemann said, "We're not pleased with the response we've received on a plethora of things."

The written statement reads: The Board believes it is in the best interests of the people of Effingham County, and the operations of the county, to conduct this special audit to determine, among other things, exactly which items of property the sheriff's office has in inventory relative to items purchased and liquidated by the office during the past three fiscal years.

The statement continues: Because West and Company conducts the county's normal audit and has contractually agreed to an hourly rate, along with its familiarity with the county's finances and banking practices, the firm is well-suited to conduct this audit.  The audit will focus on specific issues and items of property originally valued in an amount greater than $500.  The outcome of the audit will be reviewed by the County Board and the Effingham County State's Attorney's Office.

Niemann said when the Board did not see a solution reached or receive a suitable response, the audit was the option chosen to obtain the information they sought.

The special audit price was capped at $16,000.  Niemann said West and Company will have the audit completed within 75 days, but he said the firm hopes to have the work completed before then as they'll be headed into their tax season.

Effingham County 911 Board member Ted Heath recently presented information and made allegations that the County Board earlier this year purchased radios compatible with STARCOM 21 use when the sheriff's office was also in possession of radios that would have been compatible that had been purchased with grant funds.  When asked this morning whether that was a valid allegation, Niemann said some of the units purchased by the Board were needed, but as to whether some of the radios the sheriff's office had earlier purchased could have been used with STARCOM 21, Niemann said, "I don't have the paperwork in front of me, but I believe that statement is valid."

We contacted the sheriff's office for a response from Sheriff John Monnet, but we were told the sheriff is ill and not at work today.