County commissioners implement stricter internal controls following misappropriation case

Since 2010, Linn County has had protocols in place regarding the daily handling of cash payments within county offices.

Tuesday, April 13, Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker directed county Accounting Officer Bill Palmer to add an examination and testing of internal controls to the Request for Proposals when the county solicits bids for an auditing firm.

For the past eight years the audit has been undertaken by Pauly, Rogers and Co., but their contract, which called for a financial audit only, will expire.

The action comes after the commissioners learned the cash handling protocols had not been followed and a Planning and Building Department employee was charged with misappropriating $250,000.

“In 2010, we directed that cash goes to the treasurer every day and is deposited in the bank,” Nyquist said. “I wanted it to be $50 or more, but it ended up at $500.”

Nyquist added the goal is to “Make sure all departments are following the policies that are in place every day.”

In other business, the commissioners:

– Approved the renewal of an agreement between the Linn County Parks Department and the U.S. Forest Service. The Parks Department will continue to clean and maintain dispersed campsites along the Quartzville Road for another year. The Forest Service will cover county expenses. The program is considered a big success by both parties, officials agreed.

– Were informed by Ryan Vogt, executive director of the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments that State Transportation Improvement Funds will be used to design enhanced transit hubs at Oregon State and Linn-Benton Community College. He added that Meals on Wheels delivered nearly 36,000 meals in Linn County in December, January and February.

– Learned that the total number of building permits is down 8% over a year ago and the Planning and Building Department’s permit revenue is down 10%. Director Robert Wheeldon said the reductions are due in large part to decreased commercial and industrial development. The county has provided free building permits for 11 single-family homes affected by last September’s wildfires.

– Approved an Extended Tax Abatement agreement in an Enterprise Zone with Agility Robotics, which is investing $1.25 million in building modifications and new equipment in a move to Tangent from Millersburg. The company also plans to double its workforce, adding 25 employees.

– Approved moving a deadline of June 30 to Oct. 31 for aerial photography for the west two-thirds of Linn County. GIS Director Steve Barnett told the board the additional time provides better weather conditions for the photography project. There was no financial impact.

– Were told by Accounting Officer Bill Palmer that county departments have held tight on their spending. The county has completed its third quarter of the fiscal year, yet overall department spending is just 55%, compared to almost 72% at the same time a year ago. The Road Department is at 39% compared to 58% and the Law Enforcement Levy is at 61% compared to 68%.

 – Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer