Monday, 20 May 2024

Animal control cash management issues resolved, officials report

LAKEPORT – Cash management issues in the county's animal control department that were discovered in a regular audit earlier have been resolved, according to county officials.


The recently released grand jury report noted in its overview of the county's administrative office that an internal audit found “significant cash management improprieties including undeposited receipts totaling more than $45,000 and several months of unpaid invoices, and veterinary costs in excess of $10,000 to treat a single animal.”


“The department was lax in its procedures,” said Deputy County Administrative Officer Jeff Rein. “As a result of audit, we have tightened procedures up.”


Rein said nothing appeared to have been missing, nor does it appear to be a criminal issue, more one of negligence. Deposits are supposed to be done on a daily basis, not once a month.


County Auditor-Controller Pam Cochrane said the discrepancies were discovered during an annual, unannounced department audit conducted earlier this year.


“When we were out doing our routine audit in March we discovered there were some irregularities with regards to a lot of money laying around,” Cochrane said.


Specifically, they discovered $4,900 in cash and $46,000 in undeposited checks amassed during a two-week period, from donations to licenses. There also were a few large checks from the cities of Lakeport and Clearlake, which have animal control services contracts with the county. Cochrane said her office encourages large departments to regularly make deposits.


Cochrane's office brought the discrepancies to the grand jury's attention, and also to that of the County Administrative Office.


However, when her auditors went back to audit Animal Care and Control again in June, the issue had been resolved, regular deposits were being made and the audit yielded no findings, Cochrane said.


Cochrane attributed the failure to make the deposits to a “transition in staff.”


Deputy Animal Control Director Bill Davidson said the department's procedures have improved by “leaps and bounds,” and they've been making regular deposits for several months. During the June audit he said the auditors said it was the quickest one they had ever done.


“Right now things are running smooth,” Davidson said.


He said Animal Care and Control Director Denise Johnson was privy to most of the specifics about the situation, but she's out on medical leave. Johnson suffered serious injuries in a fall from a horse earlier this month and currently is in a wheelchair.


Regarding the grand jury's statement about $10,000 spent on a single animal, Davidson said he didn't have a record of that much being spent, although it did cost the department $7,000 to care for a dog, dubbed Dixie.


Dixie was impounded last summer as part of an animal cruelty investigation, as Lake County News has reported. She had been hit by a semi truck and her owner didn't take her to the vet, letting her lie in the yard in pain for two weeks before Animal Care and Control was notified.


Davidson said the costs for Dixie's care – resulting from her severe injuries and a rare bacterial infection – snuck up on them.


Rein said Johnson looked to the administrative office to implement new polices and procedures to make sure the problems with cash management and deposits wouldn't reoccur.


“We will be watching them closely to make sure that this doesn't happen again,” Rein said.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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