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ANDERSON — The Indiana State Board of Accounts has been asked to weigh in on the nonpayment of vendor claims by Madison County.

Just like in the private sector, if a bill is not paid in a specific period of time, late fees, interest and other charges can be added to the amount.

The same is true of government purchases.

According to Madison County Auditor Rick Gardner, the county’s Board of Commissioners has not approved the payment of claims to vendors since May 21.

Gardner sent an email to all departments and Lori Rogers, director of audit services for counties for the Indiana State Board of Accounts, on Thursday notifying officials and department heads the claims were not approved for payment.

Rogers responded to Gardner, the commissioners and County Council members Thursday stating additional charges assessed on any claims due to the delay in payment, any penalties, interest or other charges could be the personal obligation of the responsible official.

“Based on the information we have at this time, we would consider the Commissioners to be the responsible officials for the delay in payment,” she wrote. “While we understand that there are events that precipitated these delays, at this point we are only addressing the failure to approve claims in hopes that Madison County officials act to mitigate potential risks to taxpayers and personal liability.”

The Indiana State Board of Accounts accounting guideline manual states officials and employees have the duty to pay claims and remit taxes in a timely fashion.

“Failure to pay claims or remit taxes in a timely manner could be an indicator of serious financial problems which should be investigated by the unit,” the manual reads. “Additionally, officials and employees have a responsibility to perform duties in a manner which would not result in any unreasonable fees being assessed.”

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, following a directive from Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Board of Commissioners authorized President Kelly Gaskill to sign claims subject to latter approval by the board.

Last Monday the Board of Commissioners met but immediately adjourned without conducting any business because no county attorney was present.

Prior to sending the email to all department heads and Rogers, Gardner sent an email to Gaskill stating there is no relation between the commissioners budget and appropriations for other departments. He asked Gaskill to approve the claims.

“I share your concern that it is important to pay the county’s claims in a timely manner,” Gaskill responded. “I also think that it is essential for the commissioners to conduct taxpayer business only with legal counsel present.”

The Madison County Council has denied an additional appropriation of $171,000 to pay the Indianapolis law firm of Bose McKinney & Evans.

The commissioners have since proposed transferring $275,000 from the county’s group insurance fund to pay the outstanding bill to Bose McKinney & Evans and to pay the monthly base rate fee for the remainder of the year.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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