County audit shows non-compliance

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Charlotte County’s audit for fiscal year 2016 has a finding of noncompliance that:

“The budget document was not formally amended and a supplemental appropriation was not approved prior to obligating or incurring expenditures related to the courthouse capital project.”

State law requires a county to approve a budget and appropriate funds prior to obligating or expending funds.

Funds are obligated when the county signs a contract and expenditures are incurred when a contractor works.

The county administrator and director of finance should have followed Code of Virginia Section 15.2-1238 requiring that sufficient unencumbered appropriation be available prior to signing a county contract.

For example, the county made an obligation when the county administrator signed a contract with the architect for the new courthouse for $999,400 in July 2015. At that time there was no courthouse capital projects budget or available appropriation to cover the $1 million contract.

The county did not approve a courthouse capital project budget until June 2016 — 11 months later. 

Citizens were denied a public hearing prior to appropriation and expenditure.

I believe the county’s response to the auditor that appropriations were made prior to disbursement misses the point, as there was never a problem with disbursing prior to appropriating.

The problem was the county should have budgeted and appropriated first; instead the county obligated and spent first and thereby failed to follow state law.

Multiple times this year, I have provided comments at board of supervisors (BOS) meetings and to the county administrator that appropriations are required before obligation and expenditure.

The response I repeatedly received was that the auditors said everything was OK.

During the June 14 BOS meeting, the county attorney stated, “Well, we have the letter from the CPA that evaluated the comments made and your CPA said that they thought you were proceeding appropriately, so you have that behind you.”

I believe the auditor’s finding of noncompliance in the county’s official audit report shows all was not OK.

Terry Ramsey is a 1967 graduate of Randolph-Henry High School and a resident of Charlotte Court House. He can be reached at