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State officials are concerned about a number of problems found in a recent audit of Grainger County.

The State Comptroller's office listed a number of issues in multiple departments in a press release Monday, and recommendations for fixing them.

  • Road superintendent's office: Failed to use a competitive bidding process for certain purchases of used equipment. The road superintendent's office bought a used brush chipper for $15,500 after obtaining only one price quote. State law generally requires competitive bids for purchases valued at more than $10,000.
  • Director of Schools: Failed to use a competitive bidding process for certain purchases of used equipment. The director of schools' office spent $403,700 on nine used buses without going through a competitive bidding process. State law generally requires competitive bids for purchases valued at more than $10,000.
  • Clerk's Office: audit found an employee in the county clerk's office pled guilty last year to charges related to the theft of more than $10,000 in motor vehicle sales tax and registration renewal fees.
  • Sheriff's office: Five sheriff's department employees were indicted by the Grainger County Grand Jury for various charges related to theft, rape and inappropriate treatment of prisoners following an investigation by the sheriff's department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. In addition, time sheets for certain sheriff's department employees were not signed by the employees, their supervisors or the sheriff. If time sheets aren't reviewed for accuracy, there's a greater chance for incorrect payments to be made.
  • Auditors also determined that several departments within Grainger County government failed to adequately separate the duties for those responsible for handling financial transactions. Generally-accepted accounting practices suggest that having multiple employees involved in transactions allows them to check each other's work, which reduces the likelihood of theft or mistakes.

The Comptroller's office also recommends that Grainger County adopt a centralized system of accounting, budgeting and purchasing.

"I am concerned that Grainger County had so many varied findings in this audit," Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. "Our auditors highlighted a number of problems - up to and including criminal activity - which require corrective action. I hope and trust that Grainger County officials will take these findings seriously so next year's audit shows improvement."

You can see the entire audit here.

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