Roane County basks in rare audit glow

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By Damon Lawrence

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury audits most of the state’s 95 counties. Unless one has done something wrong, the news releases on the findings are usually routine.

“Generally they just file the reports and say here they are,” Roane County Executive Ron Woody said.

That wasn’t the case with Roane County’s recent audit.

When the report was released earlier this month, the comptroller’s office also issued a press release praising the county for its financial management.

“Roane County government’s annual audit turned up a perfect score of zero,” the release said. “That is, the state Comptroller’s auditors found no examples of problems with the county’s management or bookkeeping practices for the fiscal year that ended last June 30.”

County officials expressed satisfaction at the praise.

“This is the first time I’ve seen the comptroller’s office come out with a comment such as that,” Woody said. “I think the comptroller’s office recognizes that Roane County is in a good position.”

“It just shows all the hard work that our county executive has done with commission to get these sound financial policies in place,” budget director Kaley Walker added. “My department has worked really hard to abide by them.”

The county instituted policies on fund balance, debt management and capital projects after Woody took office in September 2010.

“We do a huge debt report where we have our debt taxes set for the life of the debt that we have right now,” Walker said. “We have a system for looking at if we’re going to issue any new debt, what the tax rate increase would have to be for that, which had never been done before.”

The release praising the county’s financial management also included a statement from Comptroller Justin P. Wilson.

“People outside government may not pay a lot of attention to the small details about how governments are managed,” Wilson said.

“However, it’s the attention to those types of details that helps greatly reduce the potential for fraud, waste or abuse of public money,” he added. “Officials in Roane County are getting it right, and I commend them for their efforts.”

Commissioner Bobby Collier served as president of the Tennessee County Services Association from October 2012 to October 2013.

He said he got to know Wilson during his tenure.

“I’ve never seen him do that on an audit, so I think we (Roane County) must have done something right,” Collier said.

The comptroller’s office said the county’s perfect audit is partly attributable to its adherence to the 1957 Fiscal Control Acts that govern centralized accounting, budgeting and purchasing practices.

“That is a very important element to having good reporting systems,” Woody said.

“Once you have centralization, you can adopt a set of policies and procedures that you have to adhere to, and once you adhere to them, you can have good, clean reports.”