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Alderwoman requests additional financial info

By Brad Hicks | Erwin Bureau Chief | Johnson City Press
Town of Unicoi Alderwoman Kathy Bullen wants to see a little more information included on the town’s financial reports reviewed and considered by the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Bullen’s request was a topic of discussion at the regular meeting of the board held on Monday, Feb. 16. Bullen said details on electronic transfers, such as direct deposits, from the town’s coffers are currently not shown on the reports, something she would like to see change.
“If I look at my monthly financial report, my personal one, I need to know what the electronic transfers are (that are) going out,” she said. “I need to know what they are, how much they are. Did it come out? Was there a problem? Was there an error? I can’t know if my monthly financial is accurate or true or where I stand with my cash balance if I don’t have electronic transfers there.”
Bullen also said she asked town officials about including a breakdown on checks written by the town, but she said she was advised this “would take too much time.”
Bullen said her inquiry was referred to Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch, which led to Monday’s discussion. Bullen said Monday the electronic transfer and check information are important pieces of information aldermen need when considering approval of town financial reports.
“I regret that it might take some time, but I think it’s a significant piece that needs to be included,” she said.
Town Recorder Larry Rea said one check written by the town could be for multiple items, meaning a breakdown of a check could include 50 or more descriptors.
“I can see verifying things, but I don’t want to get into micro-managing,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the town has a system of “checks and balances” in place. He said any check written by Rea must be signed by both he and Rea. Lynch said any time he has a question about an expenditure, town officials check on it. He also said Vice-Mayor Doug Hopson offers assistance if there are any questions, adding that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is also allowed to ask questions.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Lynch said.
But Bullen said the issue has led to audit findings the past four years. She said in the town’s most recent audit, auditors noted there was an “insufficient depth and breadth in accounting and reporting function.”
“During the course of our audit we noted the lack of a review process with regard to the recording of journal entries,” the Tennessee Comptroller Office’s 2012-13 audit of the town states.
“Nothing is getting better,” Bullen said. “Things are getting worse in our financial and accounting system and processes. So we need to ask questions.”
But Lynch said he wanted to “clear the air” regarding the town’s audits, adding that the town’s recent audits have been good.
The board took no action Monday on Bullen’s request to include the requested information in the town’s financial reports, but Rea indicated that bank statement information could be included.
“I think I need that as an alderman,” Bullen said. “I think every alderman needs it. They may not have asked for it, but I think every aldermen needs it.”