County Disagrees With State Auditor

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The state auditor says some Gila County Road Fund expenditures are questionable, but Supervisor Ron Christensen disagrees.

"It's an inaccuracy," he said. "I disagree with that analogy. Our finance director says they're in error."

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Ron Christensen

The county is audited every year, Christensen said. The alleged discrepancies were cited after the state conducted a performance audit of the Gila County Transportation Excise Tax, according to a June 30 report from the Office of the Auditor General. "Our statute requires us to do an audit of excise taxes within 10 years of their approval," said Dot Reinhard of the auditor general's office. She said the audit was in the course of business, not due to any complaints.

The auditor general said the county combines revenues from its 1994 half-cent sales tax with other money for roads, the Highway Users Fund Revenue and funds generated through the sales of vehicle licenses. The audit found at least $46,000 in expenditures from the county's road fund that did not seem appropriate. Among these: a $10,000 fine resulting from a violation of federal environmental laws; $8,688 for banquet expenses at a transportation conference; $7,666 for baseball field improvements; $10,000 to finance Globe's rodeo.

Christensen said the fine was for using county equipment in a drainage area to stop flooding.

"If we had waited for FEMA, there would have been more damage and homes would have been lost," Christensen said.

The rodeo expenditure was not for the rodeo, he said. It was to maintain the county road accessing the rodeo grounds and race track in Globe.

"If it was related to roads, it was believed by our attorneys at the time that it was a proper expenditure," Christensen said. The county attorneys serving at the time reviewed by the audit were Jerry DeRose and Joe Albo, the supervisor said.

He said the problems were the result of "a number of technicalities that are no longer the practice."

In the county's response to the auditor general, County Manager John Nelson said the road fund was subsidized with $1.8 million, "which is significantly greater than the $46,469 questioned by the Auditor General. This subsidy was in the form of indirect costs associated with the road fund."

"Our finance director and public works director will rectify any remaining problems," Christensen said. "I don't expect to hear from them (the auditor general staff) again on this."

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