(WBIR) Knox County leaders are set to conduct a series of financial reviews into the embattled Criminal Court Clerk's Office.
The county audit committee on Friday directed its external auditor Pugh & Co. to perform a number of transitional procedures that measure how much money the Criminal Court Clerk's Office accounts have the day before and the day of clerk-elect Mike Hammond taking office in September. They'll look at check and receipt numbers, as well as wire transfers, and what the office has recently purchased.
The County Commission will have to approve the request, but is expected to do so when it meets later this month.
In addition, the county's finance department on Friday agreed to launch its own analysis of recent revenues and expenses that measure the true operational costs of each court that the office oversees.
"It gives the outgoing clerk some comfort as their term ends," said county Finance Director Chris Caldwell.
"What does it cost to operate each of those three (court systems)? I'd like to know where the money has been spent, how the money has been spent," said Hammond, a county commissioner who defeated two opponents in May's Republican Primary for the clerk's seat and faces no opposition in August. "Our job is to watch our expenses and then turn money over to Knox County."
He added: "I would just like a little more in-depth analysis of those offices."
The county's internal audit department already is conducting its own review into the criminal court clerk's office, although it is tied to the operations and the criminal justice process of tracking warrants. That one could be ready in a couple of months, said Andrea Williams, the county's internal auditor.
The audits come in the wake of a series of WBIR 10News investigations that revealed how a short supply of technology and training inside the office created a series of problems that led to wrongful arrests, cases set aside due to errors and residents temporarily losing their right to vote.
Joy McCroskey, who took over the office in mid-2008 and has long said she did nothing wrong, opted not to seek re-election.
However, she's continued to come under fire recently, although mostly for her spending.
Last month, she handed out a combined $181,760 in raises to roughly 70 employees when other county departments and the school system opted to forego salary increases.
Purchases records also indicate that she spent more than $27,000 on office chairs. The majority of the chairs cost around $300 each, but she paid $1,225 each for two of the chairs.
The Criminal Court Clerk's Office, which serves as the official record keeper for Criminal Court, General Session Court, and Fourth Circuit Court, is considered a "fee office," meaning it's supposed to be self-sustaining through the court fees it collects.
Any money it receives first covers monthly payroll, including benefits, and the rest is turned over to the county's general fund to help maintain overall day-to-day operations.