State releases Grainger County audit report

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GRAINGER COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The state comptroller's office said its audit of Grainger County found problems across several departments - including criminal activity.

"It does not surprise me - Grainger County does not have their stuff together at all," said Chelsea Hayes, who lives in Grainger County.

Auditors said the road superintendent's office bought a used brush chipper for $15,000 after only getting one price quote. The road superintendent said he wanted to get bids, but couldn't find more than one used chipper.

"I tried to do it the right way and get bids. We called two or three places and they didn't have anything," said Jim Renfro, the Grainger County road superintendent.

Officials said the director of schools office also didn't go through a competitive bidding process. Auditors said the school system spent about $400,000 on used buses without getting bids.

Grainger County Schools said it bought the buses in a rush because contractors left the school system short of buses right before school started.

Auditors also determined that several departments in the Grainger County government failed to have multiple people involved in financial transactions. Auditors say having multiple people involved reduces the likelihood of theft or mistakes, and allows employees to check each others work.

Aside from that, the audit showed several sheriff department employees didn't sign their time sheets and neither did their supervisors or the sheriff.

"They should keep track of the hours they're working and know who's working and everything like that," said Hayes.

Auditors also noted the five sheriff's department employees indicted on charges relating to theft, rape and inappropriate treatment of prisoners, and mentioned a county clerk employee who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $10,000 last year.

The state comptroller is concerned that Grainger County had so many varied issues, and recommends the county come up with a better system of keeping track of its money.

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