County gets answers about forensic audit

By ALLEN MINCEY Staff Writer
Posted 8/15/17

A suggested forensic audit by a Bradley County commissioner is not specific to the Sheriff’s Office, but would look at the entire county’s finances, according to a former CPA skilled in such …

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County gets answers about forensic audit

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A suggested forensic audit by a Bradley County commissioner is not specific to the Sheriff’s Office, but would look at the entire county’s finances, according to a former CPA skilled in such audits.

Bill Bracken told the Bradley County Commission that a forensic audit would check for any weaknesses in financial reporting, and if violations are noted, “it would involve looking at a narrower scope.”

Commissioner Dan Rawls said he asked Bracken to speak to the group as someone familiar with these types of audits.

“When it was discussed earlier, there was some confusion on what a forensic audit is,” he stated. He said he thought the former CPA could enlighten the commission on what a forensic audit involves.

He said following the meeting when he first spoke of a potential forensic audit, he did not pinpoint any specific department to be checked.

“We just needed an explanation, and to discuss the differences in a forensic audit and (regular) audit,” Rawls said.

However, several in the audience felt differently, seeing it as Rawls trying to focus the audit on the BCSO. There have been several issues raised about the BCSO by Rawls in past meetings.

“We should let the courts do what they are supposed to do, and then let the voters decide,” said Pastor Rick Ellis. “People are getting fed up with this.”

A couple of local residents even called Rawls’ promotion of a forensic audit “a witch hunt.” Rawls made no comments to any who came before the commission from the audience.

Commissioner Terry Caywood asked why a forensic audit was needed as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had conducted an audit. Rawls said the TBI audit was done where the organization “assessed the provided information … and the TBI are not auditors.”

Other commissioners were concerned about the cost of such an audit.

“What would be the time frame (for completion) and how much would a forensic audit cost?” asked Commission Chairman Louie Alford. Commissioner Mike Hughes said he was familiar with a company that had such an audit, and it cost around $30,000 for six months of analysis.

“We want to make sure this isn’t a waste of taxpayer funds,” he said.

One member of the audience said he could be in favor of such an audit if it showed that a large amount of money was misappropriated or misreported, but if it is a miniscule amount, he suggested, would such an audit be beneficial?

Bracken, whose wife is a Polk County Commission member, did not indicate he would wish to do such an audit. He was also reluctant to say how long it would take for such an audit, and how much it might cost.

Rawls reinforced that he asked Bracken to be at the meeting to explain a forensic audit, not to promote it. He said that this would be a decision that the full commission would have to make.

County commissioners will next meet on Monday, Aug. 21, at noon at the Bradley County Courthouse. It will be a voting meeting.

All commissioners, along with Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, were present at Monday’s meeting.

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