More than $1.5 million o public money was misspent or misappropriated in the past year by government entities in Indiana, the State Board of Accounts reported Monday.

“We issued 70 reports last year that requested that officials or their employees pay back some amount of funds,” Deputy State Examiner Michael Bozymski said.

Of those, 15 government bodies had misspent or misappropriated in excess of $10,000 each, based on reports issued in 2017.

The highest was $338,585 in Tippecanoe County, based on a special investigation of the clerk’s records from 2005 to 2014 but released in January 2017.

Generally, cash receipts were not deposited properly in Tippecanoe County, the report found. For example, from 2005 to 2009, a former office manager’s records had a difference between deposit records and cash receipts of $156,747. Overall, the office manager was requested to reimburse the county for $299,588.

In another case, the Washington Township Trustee’s office in Clark County misspent $18,690 including the payment of personal utility bills of $3,241 for former trustee Tyler York. Also, there was $1,354 reported in equipment missing from the office and no supporting documentation for expenditures of $6,084.

The State Board of Accounts, which has hired 108 new field examiners since 2014 but has lost 53 to retirement and seven to departures, acknowledged that some examinations are overdue. The agency’s goal is to have a full staff of 260.

“We do recognize that the elimination of the past due examinations is extremely important,” State Examiner Paul D. Joyce reported to the Indiana General Assembly’s Legislative Council, Audit and Financing Reporting Committee.

“We recognize that local governments need their audits and examinations performed timely for the information to be relevant and useful. However, we can’t overlook the need to perform a quality audit or examination. With the limited resources that we have had, we made a decision as a board never to sacrifice quality for timeliness,” Joyce added.

The board of accounts’ audit reports are given to the Indiana Attorney General’s office in seeking civil collections and to county prosecutors for criminal activity.

The board of accounts examines finances of all Indiana government agencies including non-profits that receive state funds. Last year, the board issued 2,250 reports on government bodies.

In other areas it monitors, the board found two situations involving hospital foundations.

In 2016, Floyd County sold its hospital for $161 million; the county donated $50 million to the community foundation as an endowment, which is allowed under state law. However, there is no Indiana statutory requirement for public reporting of the endowment other than when donations are made or if disbursements exceed 50 percent of the foundation’s total expenditures.

Similarly, Porter County sold its hospital in 2016 and transferred $157 million to a non-profit institution.

The State Board of Accounts asked the legislative panel on Monday for guidance in addressing hospital sales, among other concerns, to promote transparency in government.

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