Politics & Government

Elliott County bungled its finances, but no crime suspected, state auditor says

State Auditor Mike Harmon.
State Auditor Mike Harmon. Office of Kentucky State Auditor

Elliott County’s fiscal court mismanaged its spending, debts and recordkeeping during fiscal 2015, state Auditor Mike Harmon said in a report released Tuesday.

“We identified a lot of issues as far as their administration and maintenance of public funds,” said Michael Goins, a spokesman for the auditor. “But none of them rose to such a level that we felt they needed to be referred to an outside law enforcement agency.”

Among the many problems that auditors uncovered:

▪  Spending exceeded budgeted levels by $854,775 for the county’s general fund, road fund and local government economic assistance fund.

▪  The fiscal court had spent 85 percent of the road fund and 71 percent of the local government economic assistance fund during the first half of the fiscal year, by Dec. 31, 2014. Because 2014 was an election year, state law limited the government to spending no more than 65 percent during the first six months of the fiscal year.

▪  The fiscal court paid several thousand dollars in credit card bills for hotel rooms, restaurant meals and other expenses without documents to show why those were necessary public expenses.

▪  The fiscal court failed to properly budget and record $301,618 in debt receipts and disbursements.

▪  The county’s general fund owes its road fund $146,905 from previous misuse of restricted funds, and its jail fund owes its local government economic assistance fund $21,795 for the same reason.

Judge-Executive Carl Fannin, a Democrat, said in an interview that he doesn’t object to the audit’s findings.

“It’s just what it is, I guess,” Fannin said. “We had one girl that left. Then we got another girl, and she just couldn’t handle it. There was no money missing or anything like that.”

Unrelated to the fiscal court audit, former Elliott County clerk Shelia Blevins and her sister, former deputy clerk Jeannie Moore, were sentenced last August to five years’ probation for misuse of public funds. The state auditor had determined that $15,680 was missing from one of the clerk’s fee accounts. Blevins was forced to resign as part of her guilty plea in that case.

Blevins’ predecessor as county clerk, Reeda Ison, also had to resign, in 2009, after she was accused of office misconduct and theft of public funds. Ison avoided jail by agreeing to repay $28,000.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics