AFP Focus | Treasurer candidates debate audit issues

Waynesboro treasurer Sandee Dixon is facing three challengers, including two write-in challengers, in the wake of a series of four state audit reports raising issue with her management of the city money office.

The four faced a question on the audit issue at a candidates forum sponsored by Waynesboro Citizens for Responsible Spending Wednesday night.

Dixon struggled with her answer to the audit issue, first brought up in an expose in our sister publication, The New Dominion Magazine, in September.

The candidates were asked what they would do to make changes to the operation of the treasurer office based on the most recent state audit report, which noted significantly the lack of an internal-control system in the office and the improper use of an in-house accounting system.

“Prior to the last audit, we did have – I had already implemented the research of the balancing of the state and estimated income taxes. That is basically the audit finding,” Dixon said, addressing specifics in the audit finding, which actually, in the words of Walter Kucharski, the state auditor of public accounts, detailed how the treasurer office did not regularly reconcile state income-tax assessments, collections and uncollected balances for the entire audit period.

“I have pursued that already. I have taken my own time to go down to Richmond and get it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. So I feel comfortable with that now, and that is what will be changed,” Dixon said.

The ’09 state audit also noted a nine-month delay in remitting $4,180.71 in sheriff’s office fees to the Commonwealth. That had the attention of Stephanie Beverage, the Republican nominee and 2005 candidate who fell short in her bid to defeat Dixon for the treasurer job.

“State code mandates that it’s deposited every 30 days. I believe it’s been deposited every six months,” Beverage said.

Write-in candidate Terry Kent, a recently downsized retail-store manager, pledged to seek the proper training accreditation for himself and his staff if elected “to bring honor and faith back to our office completely.”

As far as issues detailed in the state audit: “I would go line by line, and I would get the answers, and I would get that accomplished,” Kent said.

A second write-in candidate, Jim Serba, a newly retired retail manager, said of the string of bad audits for Dixon’s office: “It’s OK to have a bad audit. But what’s not OK is when you don’t correct the audit.”

“That’s one thing that I’ve done over the years. I’ve gone into bad stores, and stores where everything doesn’t work, we call them broken. And when that happens, and it may take a while actually to do that in a store, but that’s what I do, I go in and fix them,” Serba said.

“It’s OK to have a bad one, but the repeat is the problem. What you actually have to do, you have to take that audit, and you have to break down every single item and look at every single thing that’s done every single day to correct it,” Serba said.

“I look forward to the challenge, and I feel like I can do that,” Serba said.

 

– Story by Chris Graham

  



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