Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Stillwater County Commissioner Maureen Davey said she does look through every claim for anything that seems "out of line."

Commissioners: Non-itemized invoices not a big concern

Despite the practice of not requiring itemized invoices to pay claims, the Stillwater County Commissioners are not concerned.
The standard county practice regarding invoices is for a department head to submit some kind of documentation to a claim form, which is usually an invoice, according to Finance and Human Resource Specialist Joe Morse
That invoice must be signed by a department head, whose signature means the invoice is proper, according to County Finance and Human Resource Specialist Joe Morse.
Morse reviews the claim to make sure the coding to the correct budget line is in order. The commissioners formally approve the claim when they review them. And the Clerk & Recorder also reviews claims as her name appears on what Morse called the warrants. Morse says this is all part of the check and balance system.
However, nothing is required as far as specific itemization. Commissioners sign approximately 300 claims a month.
An Issue
The issue arose when it was discovered that the county had paid $44,000 to a private company for electrical work at the “West Annex” during approximately an 18-month time period. The “West Annex” is a building of interest as it is part of the old hospital and attached to the Meadowlark Assisted Living Center. Four county offices are also located there.
The old hospital was the location chosen by commissioners for the subject of a feasibility study completed in March 2013 and is still a possible remodel site under a second feasibility study.
A check of the five most expensive claims paid to that company, Thunder Gulch Electric, showed that with the exception of one, there was no itemization included, making it impossible to tell what exactly had been done from the paperwork.
When the commissioners were asked about the claims a week ago Monday, they requested more time.
$46,000 Details
This week, County Facility Supervisor Jerry Bokma was able to provide all the information on the five claims. He explained that the work included things such as repairing and upgrading mergence lighting (emergency and exit lighting) following a fire marshal’s visit and installing a drop-ceiling and rewiring a conference room to mitigate a sound problem. It also included preparation work on the Extension Office which is being moved to the “West Annex,” and salvaging and rebuilding lights from the old hospital to be used in the conference room, the Extension Office and dispatch.
And while Bokma followed the standard county practice in submitting the invoices, he said he is going to improve his side of things by including a “request for services” with any outside help he hires that will layout “exactly what I want done.”
When asked again if the lack of itemization on invoices was a concern, Commissioner Maureen Davey said the following:
“I guess I hadn’t seen anything that I thought was way out of line,” said Davey. “But it’s good to have something like this (Bokma’s new system) before something does get way out of line.”