County will audit Indian Hills improvement district books

Financial records of Indian Hills General Improvement District over the past five years will be scrutinized by county officials, a move unanimously approved by that body's board of trustees.

Chairman Brian Patrick said he requested the audit, due primarily to the loss of $140,000 during a previous administration.

The money came from Douglas County and the problem occurred before he was a member of the board.

"The money went into the general fund rather than an escrow account and it was spent," he said. "I have serious questions as to why and how this came about."

Ex-trustee Art Baer said the financial reports submitted to the board have been wrong on numerous occasions.

"Nothing was done," he said. "Now, we have three rather than one person doing the books and we might have to hire more to get it right."

In a November study concerning administration at Indian Hills, consultants Haugen and Keck made recruitment of a certified public accountant their first recommendation to "realign the budget and achieve spreadsheet integration needed to provide monthly budget reports to the board."

For example, a review of overtime used per month indicates either serious or ongoing operational issues for potential abuse.

Lack of timely submittal of timecards, specifically in field operations, and no written procedures further hamper smooth operations of the district.

A report identifying sick leave use, overtime and comp time use could be a good management tool for budget planning, according to the report.

"There is no mechanism to track comp time," the report said. "New timesheets could accommodate this issue."

Questions also arose concerning the district's gas purchasing process.

"We suggest immediate implementation of a procedure for purchasing accountability that would outline parameters for all field staff on appropriate purchasing guidelines," the report said.

Indian Hills officials requested an audit from the Douglas County comptroller Tuesday, but Comptroller Claudette Springmeyer told the board she doesn't have the staff to conduct a five-year audit.

Internal auditor Kathryn Lewis could take a couple of days to look at things to see if there are any major issues, Springmeyer said.

"We'd be happy to do that, at no charge to the district," she said.

"She will be able to tell in a couple of days whether there are issues that need to be researched further, but if there are issues requiring more investigation, like fraud, you will need to hire someone."

In other business Laura Lau was elected chairwoman of the district board of trustees. Denise Pierini will serve as vice chairwoman and Bill Eisele will be secretary-treasurer.

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