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Additional information presented to Commissioner's Court
LIVINGSTON — District Clerk Kathy Clifton appeared during Tuesday's session of the Polk County Commissioner's Court to present additional information on comments made at the Feb. 26 session about the audit of the county's financial records and how it was impacted by the bookkeeping in the District Clerk's office. "I want to give you an overview of some of the things that have happened in the last year in our office," Clifton said. "We have diligently worked to try to get the issues resolved and I think Mr. Stelly can account for the fact that most of that has been taken care of… "Because of the procedures Mr. Stelly has put in place, it has caused an enormous amount of additional bookkeeping that's required of the District Clerk's office. I can understand why Mr. Stelly wants everything entered into the NetData system, but it has not been done like this up until just a couple of years ago when he talked with me about possibly putting everything in. To put everything in would consist of going back many years to try to account for all the in and outs that have happened, the transactions, and each one of those transactions has to be a separate account in the NetData system which creates more bookkeeping. I have tried to go back and account for everything. Like I said there has been an enormous amount of posting errors, one was as far back as 2004," Clifton said. "The District Clerk's office has never relied on the report that Mr. Stelly is relying on. The bank statements have always balanced, they've always balanced to the checkbook registry and have been forwarded to Mr. Stelly. But this report that he is relying on is a total of everything. If there is something that is posted wrong, it's going to show a difference between the bank statement and what's actually posted in the NetData system. "So there has been an enormous amount of work that has gone into going back and making sure that everything is accounted for, for the report that Mr. Stelly is requiring now. And just for your information, that's an awful lot more bookkeeping to keep up with." Clifton offered to answer questions from commissioners, but since it was not a posted agenda item, Commissioners could not discuss the matter, Commissioner Bob Willis pointed out. "If Mr. Stelly needs anything else from me, he's welcome to contact me directly." County Auditor Ray Stelly then reported that Ms. Clifton has worked diligently on weekends and nights over the last two weeks to get the information that his office had requested from her and that the auditors, Belt Harris & Pechacek are now satisfied enough that they will issue an unqualified opinion "I appreciate the hard work that the district clerk has done in helping us get past a little crisis." PCAD Office Expansion Chief Appraiser Chad Hill appeared before commissioners to offer more details on the proposed expansion of the offices at the Polk Central Appraisal District and the PCAD's request to retain $265,000 in funds remaining from the 2012 budget year to pay for the expansion. Hill explained that he is seeking recommendations or objections from each of the taxing entities served by PCAD on the plan to renovate the existing office to better serve taxpayers to visit the office, many of whom are disclosing personal information as part of the process to contest property valuations. Hill said the proposed plan would expand the existing waiting room to allow more room for the public to do research and add public restrooms. Two of the current appraisal cubicles would be taken in to provide room for those restrooms, Hill said. Hill said he would also like to enclose the cubicle office spaces currently used by appraisers to allow property owners to have a private conversation. "Currently when you are talking about personal information related to your account, the people seated at the next cubicle can hear every word that is said," Hill said. The plan would also provide storage within the building and eliminate the outbuildings, freeing that area for use as parking — another issue for the district. "This plan would extend the life of the current location by many years," Hill said. "The absolute maximum square footage is 3,000 square feet before you cut into the parking," Hill said. If this request is approved, in addition to the existing building fund, Hill said an absolute maximum of $452,886.30 would be available for construction. Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet said "just knowing what our part is, kind of eases my mind. All we had was a $200,000 figure. This plan will take you into the future?" "I believe it will take us far enough that it will be someone else's problem," Hill said. Permanent School Fund allocations Commissioners approved a motion to distribute funds from the county's permanent school fund to Livingston ISD and Goodrich ISD based on a previously agreed upon formula, provided the districts provide quarterly reports to the county auditor. Interest that has accrued on the fund since the contract was executed will also be allocated by the same distribution formula. Equipment Commissioners approved a request from the sheriff's department to designate certain radios, light bars, siren boxes and other miscellaneous items as surplus equipment to three specific fire department and the four Road and Bridge departments. The court also unanimously approved a capital purchase by Precinct 2 Road & Bridge Department of a 4,000-gallon water tank assembly for $29,1654 with an optional water cannon for $6,750 to be paid from the Pct. 2 fund balance and included on the year in reimbursement resolution. Consent agenda Routine items unanimously approved Tuesday include the following: • Approve arbitrage rebate calculation agreement relating to statutory requirements for county bonds. • Approve constable Pct. 1 request for appointment of Stephen Williamson as reserve deputy. • Receive Pct. 3 Constable racial profiling report; and • Approve agreement with UTMB for reimbursement of certain utility services at the county owned building in Corrigan.