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"Audit finds parks department misplaced nearly $3,000"

"State Auditor Brian Sonntag found weak cash-handling controls in the fair and rodeo division of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department during a 2000 audit.County officials said last week they have suggested procedures that could tighten up the loose ends, which include $2,807 in missing Kitsap County Fair revenues.Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen said she attended a March conference with state auditors to discuss how to correct parks department accounting irregularities.There will not be a finding next year, Endresen said. That is high on our priority list.The routine audit detailed three accounting discrepancies, including a finding that daily cash receipts didn't match deposit totals.We take all findings seriously, said Mindy Chambers, a spokeswoman for the state auditor's office. But this type of finding is fairly common and easily corrected.County officials said all three problems will be corrected before this year's Kitsap County Fair kicks off Aug. 22.According to the report, a fair volunteer supervised collection of cash receipts at the gate for the Kitsap County Fair in August 2000. Auditors tried to match daily deposits to cash receipts, but couldn't until the fair volunteer returned the daily summary reports, which documented each day's deposit activity. Once the correct paperwork was in hand, auditors determined that $2,807.10, out of $154,304.68 collected last August, was unaccounted for.That means auditors couldn't determine what exactly happened with that amount of money, Chambers said. The money could be missing, or the discrepancy could mean an accounting mistake.County officials said there was no embezzlement and blamed the missing money on an accounting glitch.Auditors also found that more than $16,000 in fair revenues weren't receipted or deposited between Aug. 21 and Sept. 5, 2000. Fair employees told auditors the money disappeared for three, days but eventually was found in an envelope inside an unlocked desk. The county fair premium checking account, auditors found, also hadn't been balanced for a long period of time. That account is used to pay prize money.The state Auditor annually reviews Kitsap County. No other discrepancies were found in county operations in 2000.The county hired Cris Gears as the director of the Parks and Recreation Department in February. Gears - who previously was county Parks and Rec director before leaving to take the same job for the city of Bremerton - has been assigned to work with the county treasurer's and auditor's offices and other county departments to improve cash-handling procedures.The county also hired Frank Abbot and Lauren Erickson as fair and rodeo co-managers. They also are expected to coordinate efforts with the county auditor and treasurer.Erickson is confident cash-handling will improve this year. She said volunteers won't be handling cash this time around. The county plans to have parks staff members working in the finance office, and to have different people handling receipts and deposits. Chambers said auditors focus on areas of government in which misappropriations are more likely to occur.Any time there is a situation where folks are handling cash receipts, and a good amount of money is involved in a remote location, then something might fall through the cracks, she said.In Kitsap, that meant the fair. The parks department also has experienced heavy turnover, including four parks directors in as many years. "

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