The state has frozen grants to Clayton County after the county failed to turn in required financial documents.
County officials could not set a specific dollar amount for the frozen grants, but said the freeze could affect hundreds of thousands of dollars for roadwork, juvenile court programs, housing assistance and other county services.
“If we don’t get these grants, it could have devastating implications across the entire community,” County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said Tuesday.
According to a letter from the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, Clayton failed to submit correct 2007 audits.
“They are on a list of non-compliant governments and are not eligible for any state grants,” said Edward Blaha, director of the audit department’s nonprofit and local government division.
The state found deficiencies in at least 11 areas of the county’s financial records and asked for clarification in March. They sent a letter to Clayton again in July, but still did not receive a response, Blaha said.
On Oct. 30, the state notified Clayton it would have 10 days to turn over financial records or have all state grants suspended.
County officials sent some of the documents to the state on Friday, but that was past the 10-day deadline, Blaha said.
County Finance Director Angela Jackson said she is addressing the state’s concerns and hopes to have the problem fixed by Monday.
“All of the issues except for three have been resolved,” Jackson said Tuesday.
The county still needs to send a 2007 audit report, information on special sale taxes and investigations into two grants, Jackson said.
Bell said he did not know about the problems with the state auditor until Monday and is investigating why the letters were never answered.
The County Commission began an inquiry into Jackson’s office last week, after KPMG auditors told the chairman they could not rely on information from the county finance department.
KPMG auditors also cited “significant deficiencies” in Clayton’s financial records last December. Auditors specifically noted that the county recorded revenue in the wrong accounts and delayed reporting other financial information, causing inaccurate financial reports. Those recommendations were never addressed.
Auditors also warned the commission that it had spent $20 million of its reserves and was nearing the minimum level required by the state.`
Bell said he was unaware of the county’s financial woes because Jackson did not provide updated information to commissioners.
But Jackson pointed to minutes from a June meeting that show she informed commissioners they would have to dip into reserve funds.
“Everything that he [Bell] told you was a lie,” Jackson said Tuesday. “I have no idea about his motives. I don’t have the authority to question my boss.”
Bell said he did not want to get into name calling, but said Jackson did not provide regular reports on the county’s financial status. Bell said he still does not know the county’s true financial standing and hopes to hire an independent auditor to sort the records.
Those DARNED STATE REPUBLICANS!!!
Just as I saw in a local newspaper from Democraticly controlled Dekalb County - we cannot rest until the STATE OF GEORGIA is a BLUE STATE!!! Then the state won't pester Democratic counties with a stupid audit to account for fund!!!