EFFINGHAM — At a special board meeting Thursday, the Effingham County Board unanimously approved bringing an auditing agency to look at the Sheriff's Department's finances.
Board Chairman Jim Niemann said the board had been considering bringing in West and Company for an audit and after talks with the Sheriff's Department, the board still had questions which needed answers.
"We had some issues with funding going on at the Sheriff's Department and decided that if we couldn't find out about it in house, we were going to have to go to an outside agency to find out what was happening," he said.
The board's agreement with West and Company will allow for an audit of the department's finances going back three years, the statute of limitations. West and Company will be paid a maximum of $16,000 but Niemann said he has been assured the final cost of the audit will be significantly less than that amount. He said West and Company estimated the audit could take about 75 days.
Niemann said the board had discussions with the Sheriff's Department before calling for an audit and were unsatisfied with the talks.
"We basically tried to get answers from the sheriff, and they weren't forthcoming," he said. "We tried to discuss it with him to a mutually agreed position. I'm sure he's looking at it from his perspective, and we're looking at it from ours. We couldn't come to an agreement."
Niemann said auditing the department is in the best interest of the county board because if there were funding discrepancies the board ignored, they could be held financially liable for actions taken within the department.
"By failing to act, we would be complicit in covering anything that would come up," he said.
Niemann said the board would need to wait until the audit came back before deciding on the next action to take.
"The audit could come back and everything could be right as rain, but we just have to see," he said.
For more on this story, see Friday's print edition of the Effingham Daily News.