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Rowan County clerk of Superior Court receives favorable state audit

SALISBURY — The Office of the State Auditor this month released the findings of an audit of the Rowan County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office that showed no deficiencies.

The audit covered July 1, 2017, through Feb. 28. The audit was performed as part of a periodical examination and not the result of any special circumstances, officials said. The general objective was to identify any improvements needed in internal control over fiscal matters.

The Clerk’s Office collects fines and court costs, holds cash and property bonds, administers estates on behalf of minors, and distributes resources to government and private parties.

Four years ago, the Clerk’s Office received a citation about the timely filing of estate inventories. The auditor in that 2014 inspection identified seven estates for which the filings were not done in a timely manner.

Clerk of Superior Court Jeff Barger said in 2014 said the finding was likely related to his staff giving some people more time to file needed information in specific cases. That audit time frame was July 1, 2013, to Jan. 31, 2014.

Four years ago, Barger told a Post reporter that nearby counties also were cited in audits for the same issue.

The newly released audit shows the following:

• Cash: The auditor examined internal controls designed to ensure the clerk properly safeguards and accounts for cash receipts. The auditor also examined internal controls designed to ensure compliance with laws and regulations on depositing cash receipts.

During the audit period, the Clerk’s Office collected $11,334,865 in cash.

• Estates: The Clerk’s Office ensures all estates are charged an application fee plus an assessment based on the value of the estate’s inventory. An inventory is to be filed by a representative of the estate. The auditor examined internal controls designed to ensure the clerk properly obtains an inventory for each estate in compliance with laws and regulations. The auditor also examined internal controls designed to ensure compliance with laws and regulations on the appropriate assessment and collection of estate fees.

During the audit period, the clerk collected $222,288 in estate fees.

• Bond forfeitures: The auditor examined internal controls designed to ensure compliance with laws and regulations on the processing of bond forfeitures. The Clerk’s Office ensures all motions or orders to set aside bond forfeitures meet specified criteria and are supported by required documentation.

During the audit period, $1.7 million in bond forfeitures were set aside.

• Escheats: The Clerk’s Office transfers abandoned property to the state. The transfer results when the person legally entitled to the property fails to make a valid claim on the property within the prescribed time period. All abandoned property held by the clerk is required to be transferred to the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer.

The auditor examined the internal controls designed to ensure the clerk properly identifies escheat funds and ensure compliance with laws and regulations on escheating unclaimed funds after a prescribed period.

During the audit period, the clerk transferred $64,015 in escheats to the Office of the State Treasurer.

“Based on the results of audit procedures … the auditors did not identify deficiencies in internal control and/or instances of noncompliance that are considered reportable under government auditing standards,” the report said.

The auditing standards are issued by the comptroller general of the United States.

 

 

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