Submitted by Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman
Year end for Newton County means weeks of closing books and beginning the budget process. The Commission relies heavily on assistance from our elected County Auditor, Charlotte Ward. She does a great job and offers a real service to the County. However, most citizens know little about her duties, so we would like to take this opportunity to let you better understand her position. Thanks Charlotte!!
The Newton County Auditor’s office was created in 2001 when the County grew large enough to be categorized as a second class county. The office operates as the equivalent of a finance office in private business and is responsible for many duties some of which are detailed below. A complete list of duties is available in Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 55. The Auditor’s office works closely with the County Commission, Clerk and Treasurer to report an accurate financial picture and assist the county’s ability to prepare for growth and extended services.
The Auditor’s office prepares checks for invoices presented to the county for payment each week. She has authority to audit, examine and adjust all accounts and claims presented for payment against the county. These payments are made after the Auditor certifies that there are budgeted funds available for the payment and that the payment is true, just and legal. The Auditor may examine any account and may question the parties, witnesses and others on oath or affirmation regarding any matter or circumstance.
The Auditor reviews reports and bank statements of accounts held by all county officials each month. If the Auditor finds it necessary they have authority to have access to all books, county records or papers kept by any county officer. From these individual reports the Auditor prepares a summary report and presents it to the County Commission.
She is also required to countersign all licenses issued for the sale of intoxicating liquor and keep a record of all county licenses issued; keep inventory of all county property under the control and management of the various officers/departments; serve as a member of the board of equalization. During annual budget preparation the Auditor is required to prepare a statement of estimated revenues to the budget officer of the county. This report is classified as to funds and sources and includes an itemized list of expenditures for as many previous fiscal years as deemed proper to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the anticipated revenues and expenses to prepare a county budget.
The Auditor’s office consists of the elected Auditor, a Deputy Auditor and an Accounts Payable Clerk. Charlotte Walker Ward has served as Auditor for the past twelve years since being elected to the position. The Auditor oversees the functions of the staff, meets weekly with the County Commission, assists officeholders with problems and questions as needed, and assists the human resource department to ensure compliance with IRS, Department of Labor and statute regulations, grant reporting and audits. Jennifer Ginger has served as Deputy Auditor since August 2013. The Deputy Auditor is responsible for monthly audit of county officeholder funds, monthly reporting to the Commission, inventory, payroll and budget review and monthly financial report preparation. Carol McMillan has served as Accounts Payable Clerk since November 2009. The Accounts payable Clerk is responsible for invoice review, vendor verification, weekly check preparation, accounting for all licenses issued, and daily balancing with the Collectors office.