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County Children And Youth Audit Problems Continue

November 9, 2018

Problems with the audit of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services caused it to be so late it delayed the overall county audit for 2017. After a Monday county council work session failed to clarify the situation, Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck wants answers — and she wants them in writing. “It was disheartening, to say the least, to learn ... of the serious issues identified in the C&Y audit,” Houck wrote in an email to county officials. Those issues include a lack of documentation of about $2.5 million in the audit for last year, as well as an ongoing discrepancy as to whether about $5.6 million should be documented as in the county general fund or the Children and Youth account, Houck wrote. The latter issue dates back several years, county Manager David Pedri and county Budget and Finance Director Brian Swetz have said at council meetings this year. One year it appears the county owes the money to Children and Youth, while the next year it appears to be the opposite, Pedri said at a September council meeting. Pedri told council last spring the county audit for 2017 would not be completed by the June 30, 2018 deadline dictated by the county charter, because of the issues with Children and Youth. He vowed to figure out what is causing the continuing problems with the agency’s audit. On Monday, an accountant from a private auditing firm the county hired told council members there are no definitive answers. The numbers do not match when comparing documents supplied by the county to Children and Youth financial records, said Lisa Ritter, of Maher Duessel. Ritter cast a potential hint of doubt on county leaders’ long-held assertion that the Children and Youth audit problems stem solely from bad bookkeeping, rather than potential theft. Ritter said she did not find any missing funds, or any evidence that funds might be missing. “That doesn’t mean this discrepancy won’t result in some problem I’m not aware of,” she said. Houck, in her email, urged council Chairman Tim McGinley to request that Pedri provide copies of all documentation mentioned at Monday’s work session. Pedri said Wednesday his staff is collecting the requested documents, which he will provide to council. He said he would let the county solicitor’s office decide if the documents should be released to the public. McGinley said this week he does not plan to schedule another work session devoted to the audit problems until after council adopts the county’s 2019 budget next month. However, he acknowledged the problems are serious. “We need to figure it out,” he said. “We’ve got work to do.” Contact the writer: emark@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2117

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