Controller's office criticized for cash handling

Nevada is losing thousands of dollars because of problems in how the controller's office handles checks it receives.

Chief Deputy Controller Mark Weinbarger said most of the changes recommended in the legislative audit have already been made.

Auditors said their examination found $3.4 million in checks from cities and counties were deposited late. That, according to deputy auditor Rocky Cooper, probably cost the state $500 a day in interest.

Another 25 transactions totaling $573,000 were not recorded on a log and the office couldn't document the date that 13 other checks were received.

In addition, the office was criticized for lack of documentation of its own travel expenses.

"In many instances, it was not clear how the travel and events attended related to state business," said the audit report.

Auditors said they asked for and received more detail, "However, it was still unclear how the travel and nature of these events related to state business."

In other business, auditors agreed with the Public Utilities Commission that two major cell phone companies owe the state $800,000 in back assessments. Those companies, AT&T and AlTel, are refusing to pay the assessment. PUC chairman Don Soderberg said they interpret the law to mean they don't owe the state any money because they aren't managed and regulated like the utilities which pay the state.

Soderberg said his staff's legal opinion and that of the Legislative Counsel Bureau is that the companies do have to pay. He said they are sending demand letters and, if that doesn't work, "we will seek action in court."

The Attorney General's Office, like the controller, was criticized for not properly logging in and accounting for cash and checks. Auditors said 43 percent of the more than $3 million the office received in 1999 was improperly accounted for, but that there was no evidence of anything missing.

Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa said the necessary changes are already being made and that training and administrative controls will make sure those problems don't happen again.


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