A highly-anticipated external auditor's report
notes several incorrect postings were done by
the Platte County auditor's office and cites a
need for the auditor and county treasurer to work
together to reconcile bank balances in a timely
The latest external audit was conducted over
and above the normal annual outside audit required
to be performed for the county. County commissioners
approved an additional $2,500 to cover the cost
of this latest probe into a $195,000 discrepancy
in the county's general ledger.
Platte County's bookkeeping discrepancy has been
making news in the county for a month and became
of interest statewide when Platte County auditor
Sandra Thomas won the Republican nomination for
state auditor last week.
Thomas, who has been absent from the Platte County
Administration Building much of the time since
filing for state office, was on hand to hear the
external auditor's report and made a short response.
Mike Groszek of the accounting firm Troutt, Beeman
and Co. of Harrisonville gave his findings in
written and verbal form to the county commissioners
at their regular meeting Thursday afternoon. One
item of interest is that part of the problem did
not reside in the parks fund as initially believed,
but that a fund used for Resource Center construction
was also the site of errors.
Four mistakes were found as the $195,000 in "unaccounted
for" money was traced.
Groszek listed the four causes for the discrepancy
1. The county's cash on the general ledger was
overstated by more than $62,000 in the park construction
fund due to 2004 interest income being recorded
twice, once in 2004 and again in 2005.
2. The county's main checking account in the
park construction fund was overstated and needs
to be reduced by nearly $122,000 for activity
incorrectly posted to the bond trustee construction
account. The external auditor blamed much of the
confusion on the way the parks fund was set-up,
a duty of the county auditor, he said. The way
the park fund is devised makes the cash reconciliation
difficult because "it is not clear what bank
account is off from the county's general ledger."
"You'll have to ask the county auditor why
it was set up that way," Groszek told the
Later in the public comments portion of the meeting,
Platte County Auditor Sandra Thomas stepped to
the microphone and said establishment of the park
fund setup was done in budget meetings in 2003
with other officeholders. She said the previous
county commission, specifically former county
commissioner Michael Short, "wanted to find
a way to deal with it without having another fund
Groszek said the county does not typically maintain
their funds and general ledger accounts in this
"The county has had many construction projects
and construction funds over the past decade and
this is the first time this set-up has been selected,"
Reached by phone late in the day Thursday, Short
said he does not recall any budget discussion
with Thomas on that issue, and said Thomas' has
her dates wrong, as the parks tax was passed in
2000, not 2003.
"Heck no, I don't remember it. That was
five and a half or six years ago. And even if
I did offer an opinion on how it would be set
up, why would she take advice from me? I'm not
an accountant, I'm not a CPA. She is the budget
officer," Short said in a phone conversation
with The Landmark.
"And if it wasn't working, why hasn't she
figured that out in the past six years? To me
it proves she's a pretty weak officeholder,"
"For her to step up now and make that kind
of assertion. . . and she's running for state
auditor? The state auditor is supposed to be an
independent watchdog. What credibility would she
have as a state officeholder?" Short remarked.
Short and Thomas, though both Republicans, are
not political allies. Thomas campaigned for incumbent
Short's opponent when Short was defeated by Tom
Pryor in the 2004 Republican primary for first
district county commissioner.
Under questioning from Betty Knight, presiding
commissioner, Groszek said the commingling of
bond money and sales tax money, as opposed to
separating the two, played a major role in the
Groszek said the unusual format used by the county
in the park fund "can work if everything
is done perfectly," but when errors occur
it's more difficult to locate the source of the
error, he explained.
3. Journal entries made in 2004 by the auditor's
office incorrectly posted interest into the county's
main account when the interest should have been
posted to the account with the bond trustee. This
was not related to the park fund, but instead
these entries were part of the Resource Center
4. Interest posted incorrectly in 2005 by the
auditor's office into the county's main account
when the interest should have been posted to the
county with the bond trustees. This was also part
of the Resource Center Construction Fund.
Early in his presentation, Groszek said county
treasurer Bonnie Brown and Thomas "need to
work together" to achieve the goal of reconciliation
of the accounts on a monthly basis.
Groszek report says when the treasurer's office
completes the monthly bank reconciliation, it
should be forwarded and signed off by the auditor's
"This will help ensure that any reconciliation
difficulties will be communicated in a timely
manner," he said.
Brown did not address the commission at Thursday's
meeting and told reporters immediately after the
meeting that she had no comment.
Knight questioned Groszek as to when he could
complete the paperwork necessary to enable the
county's financial statements to be certified.
Bond holders and rating agencies are still awaiting
the county's financial statements for 2005, which
were due on June 30 but have been delayed by this
Knight asked Groszek if he could have them ready
by the end of August. Groszek indicated there
is no way that would be possible, and indicated
the end of September would be more likely. Knight
then pushed for a Sept. 15 deadline, and Groszek
reluctantly said he would do his best to have
them ready by that time.
In the meantime, Groszek will pen a letter explaining
to rating agencies the reasons why the county
has been unable to meet the previous reporting
In her brief remarks at the end of the commission
meeting, Thomas said "there has been a lot
of confusion" on this topic.
She said she wanted to make it known the county
is required to do an outside audit every year,
so this isn't unusual, she claimed.
In an interview conducted with Thomas after the
meeting, The Landmark pointed out the latest
review by the external auditor came at an additional
fee on top of his original $54,000 compensation,
and was ordered only after the discrepancy couldn't
be reconciled in the regular annual review.
"That's true, but he (Groszek) said he's
not going to charge us for it," Thomas told
This comment came as a surprise to county commissioners.
"He has not told me that," Knight stated.
Plunkett also said he had no knowledge of Groszek
agreeing to perform the audit at no charge.
Last month, Groszek had told the commission he
needed $2,500 to perform the added review and
the county commission approved a contract for
that amount with Groszek in a special meeting
held July 31.
Thomas said: "I'm glad this issue is resolved.
There is no money missing and never was any money
Asked by The Landmark for her reaction
to the news that multiple mistakes by her office
were noted by the external auditor, Thomas blamed
a lack of communication from the county treasurer's
office for much of the problem. Treasurer Bonnie
Brown has admitted having trouble reconciling
the bank balances to the general ledger for several
months, but didn't speak her problem to other
officeholders until July.
"She was showing balances to us that didn't
reconcile with the bank. If she had not hidden
the fact that she had a problem, the matter could
have been resolved," Thomas remarked.
Questioned by The Landmark if she feels
the fact Groszek has donated to her campaign for
state auditor places him in a conflict of interest,
Thomas said she doesn't feel that it does because
she will be leaving county office on Dec. 31 and
Groszek will have nothing to do with the state
Groszek left the county building shortly after
the meeting's conclusion and could not be reached
at his office.