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Outside audit for Erie County

The following article was submitted by guest columnist Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs.

Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs is working through issues at the land records division at the county clerk’s office. Jacobs said that he is focused on the “weak accounting practices in the office. The land records division processes over $60 million dollars per year, yet we account for these funds through a ‘home-made’ excel spreadsheet,” Jacobs said. To correct this deficiency, Jacobs retained an outside accounting firm to recommend a “double entry” accounting package that ties in with the offices’ software system.

“We are also asking the firm to substantiate that we have accounted for all transactions appropriately, over the last several years,” Jacobs said. “I am not entirely comfortable saying that, with the inadequate system that has been in place over the last few years.”

When he took office, Jacobs asked the Erie County comptroller to review the land record division of his office. In regard to the accounting procedures, the comptroller’s office reported, “The current system does not allow for an audit trail and provides little, if any, assurance of reliability, as the spreadsheets can easily be manipulated.”

The Erie County Legislature approved Jacobs’ recommendation to retain Tranconi, Segarra & Associates, for this project. The cost to fund the study is not to exceed $25,000 and will utilize existing budget money identified by the clerk. Jacobs said, “$25,000 to make sure $60 million is accurately accounted for is money well spent.”

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