Perry County Clerk Haven King has not repaid nearly $30,000 in expenditures that he shouldn't have made with public money, according to an audit released Monday.
Prior audits covering 2007, 2008 and 2009 concluded King spent a total of $29,290 improperly and recommended he reimburse the office from his pocket. Those payments would have increased the money going from King's office to the county fiscal court for other services.
King has repaid only $605 of the $29,290, state Auditor Adam Edelen's office said in the 2010 audit of King's office, released Monday.
However, King said Monday that he believes the spending cited by the auditor's office was proper. The county attorney, with whom he consulted, agreed, King said.
State auditors have raised questions about the propriety of some spending by King.
Expenditures by county officials, including clerks, who receive fees to run their offices, must be necessary, adequately documented, reasonable in amount, beneficial to the public and not primarily personal in nature, the state Supreme Court ruled in 1958, according to the audit.
If the auditor's office does not think spending by an official meets that test, auditors can "disallow" the spending and recommend that the official pay back the money.
The three previous audits disallowed $29,290 in spending by King on a variety of items.
For instance, King paid employees extra for working at the local Black Gold Festival; used office money to buy items imprinted with his name; gave money to charity; used office funds for year-end employee dinners; and paid employees and others to write letters to state legislators on behalf of the county, according to prior audits.
King told auditors he thought the spending was proper because it was not primarily personal in nature.
The items printed with his name, for instance, were aimed at helping promote voting, and employees worked at the Black Gold Festival to show people how to use new electronic voting machines, King told auditors.
"This program allowed the Clerk's office to train many voters on the new machines in a very short period of time," King wrote in response to the 2007 and 2008 audits.
The county fiscal court approved the spending for work at the Black Gold Festival, King said.
The auditor's office, however, stated that the employees received their normal pay for the time they worked at the festival during their normal workday, plus additional money.
The extra pay was not processed as part of the regular payroll and King did not withhold payroll taxes or report on employees' W-2 form, the audits said.