JASPER — Susan Ramsey and Sheremah De’Jesus resigned last month from their positions at the Hamilton County Development Authority shortly following the completion of the 2017 annual audit and financial report that was made available in early May 2019.

The HCDA board had no comments in regards to accepting both resignations of Ramsey, the former executive director, and De’Jesus, the former executive assistant.

According to the financial statements report in the HCDA’s audit by Kenneth M. Daniels, there were certain deficiencies in internal control that were identified, that Daniels considered to be a “significant deficiency.”

According to the audit, Ramsey received $7,487 in excess of the established amount for her salary while De’Jesus received an additional $3,053.

In addition to the excess wages, there were also findings in the audit of failure to submit changes in annual and sick leave to the appropriate level of management on a monthly basis. The report states that there was no approval by an HCDA board member for the executive director or the executive director for the staff assistant, with no documentation noting hours taken and dates provided.

In the Development Authority’s July 18 meeting, board members discussed forgiving the debt De’Jesus owed for records purposes in a future meeting to be held at a later date.

No mention of Ramsey’s debt was made in the meeting, however in speaking with Ramsey, she was paid for sick leave and other time acquired when she resigned.

According to Ramsey, she resigned due to health of an immediate family member and her desire to start her own business.

The report also had findings of questionable costs that totaled $1,045, as well as reimbursements made for amounts not supported by invoicing. Reimbursements made without documentation and support by invoice falls within the failure to comply with Florida Statutes 112.061. The audit also noted that a bonus had been awarded but without proper documentation by the board and had not been retained or indicated in the board’s minutes, which also fails to comply with Florida Statutes 214.425.

As stated in the report, Florida Statutes 218.32(1)(d) requires that “each local government entity that is required to provide for an audit under s.218.39(1) must submit a copy of the audit report and annual financial report to the department (of Financial Services) within 45 days after the completion of the audit, but no later than 9 months after the end of the fiscal year.” The audit report also states that the HCDA’s annual audit and annual financial report was not completed in accordance with the above referenced statutes for the year ending Sept. 30, 2017.

Per the report, there were 21 instances in which invoices were not date stamped and 26 instances in which disbursements were not supported by invoice or approval in minutes. In the report, Daniels said 30 out of the 279 disbursements by the HCDA were tested, totaling in $32,501. This falls into failure to comply with Florida Statutes 218.74, without ensuring that disbursements are appropriate.

In response to the audit findings, Ramsey acknowledged that the audit was late but that the 2017-18 audit was to be filed on time, by June 30.

“While payroll was made early, no actual overpayment of funds was made,” Ramsey said, adding the lack of date stamps on invoices was an oversight. “The Executive Director has authority to approve any payment of $1,000 or less as well as any item approved through the budget. Any other expenses or invoices were approved by the board.

“Any receipts or documentation not included would be an oversight. It is sometimes difficult or impossible to obtain receipts for tolls, tips, meters, parking and related expenses but all expenses are detailed and documented.”

Ramsey added that the Development Authority disputed the finding in regards to employee bonuses. She said there are multiple page long reports in regards to achievements for Ramsey and De’Jesus for the board to review and approve prior to issuance of the bonus, to which, “copies of both reports are on file and available.”

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