Audit discussion dominates Fiscal Court business

by Barbara Atwill

Discussions became heated between Fulton County Judge/Executive Jim Martin and Magistrate Jim Paitsel during the Fulton County Fiscal Court meeting July 11, with Magistrates Wade Adams, Hugh Caldwell, and Shaun Parks also present.

Paitsel addressed jail work crews’ provision of lunchtime meals, as well as the bill for the audit.

“I saw only one bill for buying food for the work crew. We have one bill for food from Clinton and I saw the Fulton County work crew on the Jackson Purchase Parkway in Graves County. Do we feed in Mayfield?” Magistrate Paitsel asked.

“We do not feed in Mayfield. What time did you see them? Lunch time varies. Most times they eat around 11 a.m.,” Fulton County Jailer Steven Williams said.

“In the bills, we have a bill for the audit. My complaint is I had to read the Audit Report in the local paper and the 2020 Report had several findings, which is not good. Frankly, I don’t know why the response was what they were. I will go through them and it says repeat findings. I went online and found the Audit Report. I have been criticized on audit reports. I have asked the State Treasurer why we don’t have the 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 Audits. Someone from the Treasurer’s office called me and said 2017, 2018 and 2019 audits were already done. Hickman County had a private auditor for 2020. Ours is still not published on that,” Paitsel said.

Paitsel read the Audit findings and the responses from the Judge/Executive.

“There was no record in the Fiscal Court minutes that the quarterly reports for the second and fourth quarters were presented to the Fiscal Court as required by KRS 68.360. They go on as to what the KRS requires. KRS 68.360 says the County Treasurer shall balance their books on the first day of each month to show the correct amount on hand belonging to each fund on that day and shall be presented to the Magistrates. The Judge shall post in a conspicuous space in the courthouse near the front door for at least 10 days. This is every quarter and we are not doing that,” Paitsel said.

“You are wearing me out. Does anyone else have anything to say?” Martin asked.

“I’m going to speak,” Paitsel said.

“We can read that Jim,” Martin said.

“We didn’t get to read it. I got to read it in the newspaper,” Paitsel said.

“Well, bless you heart. Aren’t you special. Now let me say...” Martin began.

“No, let me finish talking here,” Paitsel said.

Martin said, “You can’t talk all day.”

Paitsel replied, “I’m on the last page.”

Paitsel continued reading the Audit Findings then passed out a sheet with findings from Hickman County.

Two credit cards were paid late resulting in late charges and interest charges.

“We are paying late fees and interest fees every month. I keep asking to increase the Treasurer’s Bond so we don’t get stuck like we did with Ricky Parnell and Ron Armstrong. There is very little we have to do to increase the bond,” Paitsel said.

“Does no one look at the packet? Is no one concerned?” Paitsel asked.

“Why are we out hundreds of thousands of dollars?” Paitsel said.

“First of all, Hickman County and the other counties, have not gone through what we have gone through. We received the 2017, 2018, 2019 audits ‘this year,” Martin said.

“Well you emailed us earlier,” Paitsel said.

“I’m talking now. You can shut up. We got it this year, so how can you make a finding that is not reported to you until 2022 and have it corrected in 2021. I don’t know. I’m proud of the people in Hickman County. They haven’t gone through what we have. Everything was put on hold because of the FBI investigation going on. We didn’t have the audits. It says the Fiscal Court had inadequate control on purchasing. Two Invoices were paid beyond the 30 day statutory limits. One was to the Jail that we disputed and sent back to the vendor and corrected and sent back to the Fiscal Court. The second was a check given to the WAVE group with an incorrect date from the month before. That is the disastrous mistake we made. The issue with inadequate segregation of duties we have that finding every year since 2000. Going forward April and I will put an extra set of eyes on the reports,’ Martin said.

“The auditors were very critical of the payroll company, which you (Paitsel) recommended. The issue of running the payroll with five different organizations being paid out of one account needs to be fixed. We can’t continue to do this. If you ‘fee pool’ with the Sheriff’s office that will be great and fix the issue going forward. We need to get someone to look at our entire accounting system. I asked the auditor if they thought any money had been misappropriated and they responded absolutely not,” Martin continued.
“I make a motion that the Treasurer and management consult with the state auditor of public accounts for guidance in establishing proper segregation of duties in the accounting and reporting functions per the most recent audit report. Additionally, someone independent of the payroll function is to verify proper amounts are transferred to the payroll revolving account from the corresponding operating funds, and verify that any accumulated balance is properly allocated and reflected on the county’s financial statement,” Caldwell said.

Paitsel reported he had made calls regarding the possibility of hiring a CPA for the County.

“I thought we could get one for about $50,000. I found out everyone around is getting paid $75,000. I believe it is better to pay $80,000 than to always have these findings,” Paitsel said.

“I don’t think we should individually go, without coming before the Fiscal Court, looking to hire someone,” Parks said.

“I think there are improvements to be made. I appreciate Jim’s interest, but it is a whole different story. I’m not an accountant and I don’t understand. I think Jim said he doesn’t understand and I think he is right because I don’t understand it,” Martin said.

Magistrates approved the paying of the bills, with Paitsel voting no.

Alan Parker, Fulton County Road Department Foreman, discussed the mowing equipment with the Magistrates.

“We have two mowers. One is 10 years old and the deck is worn out. The other is about four years old. We need to replace the deck and the approximate price will be $8,100 plus $500 for shipping. A new mower will cost around $20,000. The deck is all I need. I have welded and repaired as much as I can. The tractor and arm are still in good shape,” Parker said.

Magistrates voted to purchase a new deck from CMI in Nashville and it will take approximately four to six weeks for it to arrive.

The Fulton County Clerk’s Quarterly Report for April – June 2022 was presented and approved.

Magistrates also approved the Fulton County Clerk Naomi Jones’ Budget Amendment for FY 22.

“The amendment is for the Clerk’s salary from the State. I usually do this the first quarter and being short one person in the office, I did not get it done. I also need to purchase more cameras to cover the election equipment and more storage. We are not asking for more money, only to swap categories,” Jones said.

The Fulton County Sheriff Derek Goodson’s Quarterly Report for April – June 2022 was presented.

Fulton County Treasurer Leslie Woods updated the Court on appropriations made to the Sheriff’s Office in March.

“The bill for the May fringe benefits $8,804.47. Jim asked me to compile everything and he has a copy. In March 2020, the Sheriff’s office asked for excess fees back of $60,515.75. In April, they asked for extra money for salary for Mayo $5,542.34. They also asked for $26,835. Now they are asking for $8,804.47, which is in the bills. On June 13 they asked the Court for a car payoff of $5,439. This leaves them a balance of $13,886.59 in the 2021-2022 Budget. The fringe benefits for June are $6,184.93, and there was an advancement in December of $15,000,” Woods said.

“The balance is they have $13,000 in their account. They still owe us $15,000 and asking for $6,184.93, so they are running beyond what we have in their account. The $15,000 loan, how does that get paid back,” Martin said.

“Normally we pay back at the very end of the year when the tax collections are received. We have no money to start payroll in January,” Kayla Mullis, Fulton County Deputy Sheriff said.

“This is one of the things we talked about with the auditors. It is borrowed in a Fiscal Year and not getting paid back in our budget,” Woods said.

“We used to borrow money from the State. When we received the first check we would try to pay it back. Now that we are not borrowing the money from the State, there is no way for us to pay back unless we borrow from discretionary funds at the beginning of the year,” Mullis, said.
“This is a good time to pool the account, then the Fiscal Court would make decisions. We have a new Sheriff coming in, an old Sheriff going out. Fiscal Court makes all these decisions,” Magistrate Paitsel said.

“I don’t think that’s what we would want,” Mullis said.
“I’m not pro or con for fee pooling. We can appropriate to the Sheriff to pay,” Judge Martin said.

“The downside of fee pooling is it takes away independence from the Sheriff’s Department,” Magistrate Adams said.

Magistrate Paitsel said, “With a new Sheriff taking office at the end of the year I would like to make a motion to fee pool.”

“One option to correct the Audit finding is fee pool, or for the Clerk’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office do their own payroll and be independent,” Martin said.

“If the Sheriff does not pay back the funds in their calendar year, they are not liable for it,” Martin said.

Magistrate Paitsel made a motion to have the County Attorney research and report the process to fee pool the Sheriff’s Office. The motion carried.

Fulton County Attorney’s Report from Rick Major included the continuation of negotiations with the case against Ricky Parnell and Ron Armstrong.

“I have turned everything over and presume it has been recorded. The Belfour suit is still in negotiations to settle,” Major said.

Motion was made to proceed with declaring the McClanahan property as surplus and set a sale date.

“The defendant has not paid the survey fee,” Major reported.

Fulton County Treasurer’s Report by Leslie Woods was approved following discussion.

Discussion of Bills was conducted.

Woods said some of the bills have not been received including Lowes, Office Depot, and the statement on the Security Bank card.

“We called the bank last week to get a copy and was informed it could not be faxed, or emailed. They would have to send another through the mail and it hasn’t been received,” she said.

Transfers for the month, and employee dismissal at the Detention Center were approved.

Magistrates also discussed payroll issues.

“Some fringe benefits come out the middle of the month and some come out the end of the month,” Woods said.

“We need to seriously consider discontinuing supplemental insurance,” Martin said.

Woods is to obtain a list of contacts and phone numbers to be given to the County employees.

As part of the discussion of earthquake insurance, Paitsel made a motion to take everything off of the insurance policy except the Courthouse. The motion was approved.

April Gallimore, Administrative Assistant reported she had received information from The Citizens Bank and Regency Bank, regarding credit cards.

“ The new cards will not have any one’s name on the card and there will be in interest if paid on the due date. The Citizens Bank has filled out all the paperwork to help get the card started through them,” April Gallimore said.

Hugh Caldwell made a motion use The Citizens Bank and the motion was approved.

An update on the Gibson Connect Broadband was provided by Gallimore.

“Gibson Connect received a $4.6 million grant for broadband in their service area. This is the final mile for Hickman, Fulton, and parts of Graves counties serviced by Gibson Electric. The cities of Fulton and Hickman are not included however Gibson Electric is working with them to possibly make available broadband to their customers,” Gallimore said.

Discussion took place as to whether to authorize bids on the roof of 200 Block at the Fulton County Detention Center.

“It will take approximately $15,000 to complete the project,” Martin said.

The Court approved and authorized the taking of bids, to be opened Friday, August 12 at the Detention Center.

As to the Architect agreement on the Gibson Building, Judge Martin there may not be enough money from the grant to complete the project.
“We had to hire an architect and that is the reason for the increased cost. We will need to change the name of the building and one suggestion is the Mills Point Building,” Martin said.

Judge Martin provided the Court with updates on roads in Fulton County receiving funding under the State Highway Construction Plan.

“Some projects included are the Purchase Parkway from State Line to the County Line, and the four-way stop in Hickman (Hwy 125 and South 7th Street),” Martin said.

Judge Martin also reported early payoff of the Jail Debt is expected to be done in 10 years.

“This was a $4.4 million project with interest of 1.7%. We be saving $684,000,” he said.

J.L. Atwill, Fulton County Emergency Management Director, reported on the 900 Dispatch Grant.

“We received a $105,142 grand for a new radio console with an $11,763 matching grant,” Atwill said.

Magistrates approved a Public Assistance Grant of $399,382,921 to provide public assistance for all counties effected by the December 2021 tornado and voted to enter into an Interlocal Agreement and resolution for programs designated to enhance employment and training opportunities, with the view of serving human resource skills development and workforce needs within the United States.

Magistrates voted to start the process to remove the Carnegie Library from the National Historical Registry, as if it is removed all restrictions are removed and it can be repaired without stipulations.

“We have spent $669,000. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) approved $414,000, and the State has already reimbursed $255,000 for their share the County cleaned up. FEMA has a project to replace the fence around the water at Cayce,” Martin said, in reference to tornado incurred expenses.

“ER Assist has been a life saver helping with the Fire and Rescue building,” Atwill said.

“There are some concerns from the insurance that the property does not really belong to the County, and they have not done Fulton County right. We have not received anything. Hopefully we will have some good news down the road. The Fire and Rescue Building was denied any help from FEMA. We received a check from the insurance company for the building. The new building will need to be larger with a safe room. KACo (Kentucky Association of Counties) adjuster is in contact with the architect,” Martin said.

Steve Williams asked for a clarification from the previous month’s fiscal court meeting’s discussion.

“Last month I wasn’t here and you (Paitsel) questioned the Detention Center’s Walmart bill and gift cards, putting me with Ricky Parnell,” Williams said.

“Fiscal court doesn’t receive the statement. We don’t know what is spent,” Paitsel said.

“The Capital One statement is the credit card. Why did you say something comparing me to Ricky Parnell? I have an open policy and you can see any of my records,” Williams said.

“I don’t have a problem with Fiscal Court paying for the meals or the commissary fund,” Magistrate Parks said.

“For the record, Jim Paitsel attended a conference and gave a 70% tip charged to the County and bought a milkshake on his way home for the County to reimburse him,” Martin said.

Gallimore asked if the Magistrates wanted to receive their packets by email, or should she start hand-delivering them, with Caldwell opting to have it emailed and Parks requesting his be delivered.

Magistrates adjourned from open public session into Executive Session pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(d) at 11:40 a.m. They returned to open session at 12:19 p.m.

Hickman resident David Thomas asked if the Fire and Rescue helped with the recent recovery on the Mississippi River.

“We were on the water for seven hours. We had no cell service and were not able to contact any one. We looked for 36 hours,” Adams, Captain of Fulton County Fire and Rescue said.