Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One in four TN County Governments affected by theft

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In all, about one in four county governments in Tennessee were affected in some way by theft last year, according to a new audit conducted by the state comptroller's office.

The audit says counties in Tennessee are about $350,000 short because of theft.

Sometimes, the thefts are sizable. According to the audit, Henry County is still trying to recover more than $162,000 that was stolen in 2006 through a conspiracy involving the then-sheriff.

But more often, the audit reveals, thefts only involve one or two people and the take is much smaller, involving a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. Even in cases where the money taken was just a few hundred dollars, drawn out legal proceedings can delay repayment for years.

Joe Kimery, an assistant director in the Comptroller's Office of County Audit, said the thefts weren't sizable enough to have much of an effect on day-to-day operations in most counties. But they can create serious concerns in the eyes of taxpayers.

"It erodes the confidence the public has in government when they see these things happen," he said.