Consultant contracted to assist auditor’s office

An Indiana State Board of Accounts audit identified issues that Wayne County is scrambling to correct.

Auditor Mark Hoelscher received the necessary approvals from Wayne County Council and commissioners March 1 to hire Hartman and Williams, a Bloomfield-based governmental accounting consultant. Hoelscher told commissioners Hartman and Williams would have a consultant on-site March 7.

The primary issue is compliant tracking and handling of grants, where the audit identified a lack of internal controls. Some grants cannot be identified, and grants that ended years ago continue with either plus or minus balances. Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said much of the problem dates to the 2020 separation of the Wayne County Health Department and the health clinic, which is now Well Care, and the issue has continued. Hoelscher also said problems have not been corrected.

Council member Cathy Williams, a former county treasurer, said she saw one grant that ended in 2010 carrying a $22,000 balance and the health department did not know it existed. She also saw three HIV treatment funds that ended long ago, three carrying negative balances and one with a positive balance. 

The audit report grabbed Hoelscher’s attention with a line that noted the issues could impact the county’s ability to receive federal funding. Plasterer said that during an audit exit interview county officials were told the situation was not as dire as that ominous wording, but the county acted with urgency to begin corrective measures.

“This is serious,” Hoelscher said. “I treat it that way, and I want to get it solved.”

Hartman and Williams is contracted for up to $15,000 to have a consultant guide the auditor’s office. Hoelscher said he would evaluate the situation after a month and decide if more time with the consultant is needed.

The auditor’s office staff is not properly trained for the jobs they currently perform, Hoelscher said, and employees are not cross-trained to do tasks usually handled by others in the office, such as running payroll. 

Hoelscher plans to provide that training and cross-training as well as networking and learning opportunities at state conferences. He also plans to change the way budgets are created, he said.

“It is mind-boggling to me that it runs that way,” Hoelscher said. “This is big business, and that’s how I’m treating it. 

“We cannot continue to do business in the manner that it’s been done.”

Hoelscher also requested a contract with Manpower to provide a part-time employee. He prefers initially using Manpower because he can simply ask for a new temporary worker if one doesn’t perform well. His hope is a temporary Manpower employee would eventually become a county employee to fill the part-time position.

That request was delayed until Hoelscher receives a contract from Manpower.

Hoelscher’s request for an additional employee also was delayed. The preliminary job description Hoelscher provided was not complete enough to forward to human resources consultant Waggoner Irwin Scheele and Associates in Muncie. The consultants categorize the job and assign it a salary.

Hoelscher said his office’s staffing issues recently came to the forefront when an employee was forced to miss work because of COVID-19.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 8 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.