Auditor says problems persist at 2 city agencies


Six months after auditors found serious accounting and personnel problems in the city sheriff's office and the Department of Recreation and Parks, some of the problems have not been corrected, particularly in the sheriff's office, the city auditor said yesterday.

Speaking to the Board of Estimates, city Auditor Yovonda D. Brooks said an "implementation plan" she recently received from the sheriff's office lists corrections to most, but not all, problems reported in her audit in the fall.

For example, the audit had found "severe violations" of sick leave and vacation leave policies and recommended an automated system of tracking such leave. A new system has not been implemented, although the sheriff's office said yesterday that it hopes to have an automated system in place by January.

The sheriff's office has also not changed its practice of reimbursing $350 a month to sheriff's deputies who use their own cars for official business. The audit had recommended that sheriff's deputies be reimbursed for their cars based on the number of miles driven, in accordance with city and state policy.

Sheriff John W. Anderson did not attend the board meeting yesterday because his daughter was graduating from college. But Col. G. Wayne Cox, Anderson's senior deputy, told the board that the current practice is based on a 14-year-old "gentlemen's agreement" with the city and that the office would like the city to continue to honor that agreement.

Cox said the $350 is more equitable than a per-mile reimbursement because sheriff's deputies make scores of stops during the day -- issuing summonses and warrants -- that inflict much wear and tear on their cars.

Brooks told the board that her office would continue to monitor the sheriff's office's efforts to implement changes she had suggested in the audit.

The recreation and parks department has complied with all but one suggestion in Brooks' audit of that agency in the fall.

In November, the audit found sloppy cash management and limited oversight of overtime, which allowed some employees to earn 50 percent of their salary in overtime. One employee almost doubled his salary with overtime.

Overtime has been controlled in recent months, but Brooks said she's concerned that cash collected at recreation centers is not being turned in to City Hall cashiers within three days. The audit had found that some centers kept cash on hand for 72 days before turning it over to the city.

Marvin F. Billups Jr., who was hired in the fall to run the recreation and parks department, told the board yesterday that some recreation centers have minimal amounts of cash and that frequent trips to City Hall are a burden to his limited staff. He said it would be more reasonable to require that cash be turned in after five days or after a certain amount of money had been collected.

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