Blog

January 5, 2017

NUMBER THREE IN A SERIES: HOW TO BE ASSURED THE MONEY IS GOING WHERE IT OUGHT TO GO

It seems every few months we read about a government clerk who has siphoned off thousands of dollars. We shake our heads and ask ourselves how could that be allowed to happen, but, be honest, how do you know it is not happening right now in your own unit of government? You may answer that you know and trust your people. But the people you read about were also trusted employees until they were caught. Sadly, trust is not an accounting control. Sometimes the auditors make these discoveries, but not often. A smart crook will always leave behind convincing documents for audit purposes. Usually, when a person is caught, it is a result of an anonymous tip, a mistake on […]
January 5, 2017

NUMBER TWO IN A SERIES: GHOST EMPLOYEES YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD

There are two kinds of ghost employees – do you know which kind is more dangerous? The kind of ghost employee that gets the most publicity is the least dangerous. We have all heard of the occasional government official who puts a friend or relative on the payroll, but does not expect that person to show up and work. Obviously that is unethical and probably illegal. But it is not a danger to you, as a public official, because you already know about it. If you are doing it, you know you are doing it. Granted, you may not be aware a trusted employee may be doing some personal or political work while he is on government time. Technically, that […]
January 5, 2017

NUMBER ONE IN A SERIES: SAFEGUARDING PUBLIC ASSETS

“How do I know I can trust all these people?” A newly-elected official once asked us that question. He inherited a staff from his electoral opponent, the former office holder. He wanted continuity of operations, so he did not want to fire everyone. He knew, these people from his time on the fiscal body. Basically, he trusted them, but he did not hire them. He did not want any of them to get him into trouble. Here was our advice: Even if you think you know people, you don’t. Besides, public office is a public trust. Your job is not simply to trust people you know, but to put in place sound security systems to safeguard public assets. Think back […]
January 26, 2016

Property Tax Shortfalls

Did you receive your share of property taxes? Mayors, trustees, clerk-treasurers, and controllers all should be concerned about whether the correct amount of property tax has been received from the county. It may surprise you to know that settlement of property tax is not an exact science. Rarely does a unit receive exactly the amount of property tax that was approved in its annual budget process. Variances up to 3% are not uncommon. For almost any unit, 3% of the property tax settlement is an amount worth investigating. If you receive less than the expected amount, your unit will be short cash. This article will explain how you may be able to recover that shortfall. It is also a problem […]
October 14, 2015

Why do Indiana local officials need to learn about GAAP?

Indiana now requires some cities, towns, and counties to publish financial statements in accordance with GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). IC 5-11-1-4 now requires GAAP financial reporting for counties, cities, and towns that issue bonds, on the following schedule: CITIES AND TOWNS: Calendar year 2016 (reports filed in 2017) for cities & towns over 250,000 population Calendar year 2018 (reports filed in 2019) for cities & towns over 100,000 population Calendar year 2019 (reports filed in 2020) for cities & towns over 75,000 population COUNTIES: Calendar year 2016 (reports filed in 2017) for counties over 250,000 population Calendar year 2018 (reports filed in 2019) for counties over 175,000 population Calendar year 2019 (reports filed in 2020) for counties over 100,000 population     How does […]