County Realigns Budget For State Auditor

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The half-cent sales tax you pay to Gila County will be used as it was intended in the future. The tax was approved for road improvements in 1994, but some of it may have been used for other purposes in the past.

At the end of June, the county was told by the State Auditor General's office that some of its road fund expenditures were questionable. The state's recommendation was to reimburse the road fund with money from the general fund.

Instead of making an outright repayment, officials moved one set of road fund expenditures into the general fund, and then moved another set of costs from the general fund into the road fund, according to County Manager John Nelson.

The audit found at least $46,000 in expenditures from the road fund did not seem appropriate, such as an $8,688 for banquet expenses for a transportation conference; $7,666 for baseball field improvements; and $10,000 to finance the county rodeo. Gila County Supervisor Ron Christensen disagreed with the call, but the county's formal response to the state indicated agreement with some of the findings.

"Gila County agrees with the Auditor General's finding of some questionable expenditures ... that do not meet the definition of street and highway purposes," Nelson wrote in his response to the state report.

Nelson said the county has realigned its road and general funds to address the auditor's concerns.

Any expenditures at issue have been moved to the general fund, he said.

At the same time administrative costs for the roads department have been put in the road fund budget instead of the general fund, where they have been carried in the past.

"We will inform them (the Auditor General's staff) of what we've done," Nelson said.

The auditor's report also suggested designing policies to help avoid further problems with road fund uses. Nelson said those policies are now in place.

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