The Hancock County Board of Supervisors on Monday discussed the fiscal year 2017 financial audit, performed by Ty Necaise with Necaise and Company, PLLC, Certified Public Accounting Firm.

"You guys are doing well," he said. "Every year y'all kind of trended upward in your equity and cash balances and all the things that kind of matter."

At the end of 2016, Necaise said the county had a cash balance of $22.8 million, which is not all available. In 2017, that number rose to $31.3 million.

Necaise pointed out that the county had a significant decline in grants-receivable funds.

"You guys are dropping down from carrying normally about a $10 to $15 million grant receivable balance down to about a million dollars," Necaise said. "So, a lot of your grants are really drying up so be mindful of the fact that cash-flow wise, things are really going to start tightening up from this point because you don't really have the cash in-flows from state government, federal government that you had in the past."

Necaise said it would be wise of the county to look into all available grant opportunities.

Necaise said that – in relation to the general fund – property tax collections were "very good."

He said that about $10 million in infrastructure-related projects were completed last year.

Necaise said the general fund –– which includes the gaming fund –– increased by $3.2 million.

He added that the cash balance increase is due to the county "managing your budget very well, typically come in under or at budget in most all of your departments."

Next, Necaise addressed some instances of noncompliance with statute, the first being inventory control, a repeat finding.

According to the audit, there is about $269,500 worth of assets not recorded in the county's inventory system.

The second finding involved purchases with credit cards, Necaise said.

"According to state statute, you can only the use the credit card that you issue as a travel card only," he said. "What we found when we're looking at credit cards that were things purchased that were not travel related like Post-its or something to that effect."

Next, Necaise said that the county is holding unclaimed property that is older than five years.

According to the audit, the next instance of noncompliance is "several instances of unsigned time sheets by the sheriff's department."

"It's mandated that supervisors must sign time sheets," Necaise said. "I sent that information over to the sheriff and they're looking into that. My recommendation here is that we have to get strict on departments on the administration side. In my opinion, when time sheets come through and they do not have a supervisors signature on it, we need to require that before we process payroll, because we're just processing it blind."

According to the audit, another significant deficiency is that the general fund was out of balance and had to be adjusted.

"The county's software does not restrict edits to ledgers once a period is closed," the audit states. "Changes were posted after the fact that caused the general fund to be out of balance and bank reconciliations to change."

Necaise recommended that the county update its software.

County Administrator Eddie Favre said Monday that the county budgeted for new software this year and is looking into it.

The final item Necaise discussed was classification issues.

The auditors found that a number of transactions were recorded in incorrect accounts, Necaise said.

Department heads are responsible for assigning budget codes, he added.

"On the administration side, in my opinion, departments shouldn't go out and do that," Necaise said. "On the administration side, when it comes in, we should be overseeing this so that when it's classified in the system, it's going to the right spot and then the budget reports come out for the department will show them where they're actually at."

Last year, Necaise said, the county had about $1.3 million in expenses go into the wrong accounts.

Necaise recommended that the purchase and accounts payable clerk assume responsibility for monitoring budget code.

Necaise concluded by saying that the county, "for the first time has no disclaimers in the report."

"You have a completely clean opinion," Necaise said. "You have a completely unmodified opinion."

In a separate matter, Hancock County's IT Director Scott Schaefer gave the board an update on the county's network and data consolidation.

Schaefer first gave a history of how the county came online after Hurricane Katrina.

In 2009, the county courthouse was first to come online; followed by the annex building in 2010; the next building was the storm prep in 2011; the next building was the sheriff's office in 2012; and finally the Emergency Operations Center building in 2015.

"That's how everything looked back then, fiber and AT&T circuits strung all over the place, three Internet connections, and three firewalls," he said.

About two years ago, the county formed an IT department, Schaefer said.

"One of the concepts was to take all this stuff and bring it up to the EOC," he said.

Since then, the youth court has also been brought online, Schaefer said. The IT department has been incrementally moving each department's data to the EOC, he said.

The four main buildings are connected by fibers, he said, and the county's critical data flows to the EOC, where it will be backed up on services connected to generator power.

Schaefer said that by May of next year, all of the county's data will be at the EOC.

In other action:

The board approved a proclamation declaring the third week of October as 2018 Chamber of Commerce Week.

A hearing is scheduled to declare the following properties a menace to public health and safety on Nov. 5 at 1:30 p.m.: 8003 Claiborne St., Bay St. Louis; 7287 Hancock Dr., Bay St. Louis; 6138 E. Desoto St., Bay St. Louis; 9205 Sellers Place, Picayune; and 6274 E. Madison St., Bay St. Louis.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Nov. 5 at 9 a.m.

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