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Tobar’s projected surplus evaporates

Last October, Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar bragged to members of the Grady County Commission and the Grady County Lake Authority that the county had over $1 million more in cash as of Sept. 30, 2014 than it did the year prior.
Unfortunately, Tobar’s “quick and dirty calculation” as he described it last fall has turned out to be false. The county administrator failed to account for grant funds that had been deposited into the county’s general fund.
In fact, the county’s auditor last week formally presented a statement of revenues and expenditures for the 11 months ended Nov. 30, 2014 and it shows that the county’s fund balances dropped, not increased, and the county spent $113,598 more than it took in as revenue.
As of Nov. 30, 2014, the county’s fund balances stood at $10,351,036, which is down from $10,385,671 on Jan. 1, 2014.
Total revenue for the 11-month period was $9,993,477, but the county spent $10,107,075 during the 11 months ended Nov. 30.
Auditor Tom Carmichael presented the report to the board last Tuesday. Commissioners also met with the auditor behind closed doors without Tobar present.
Tobar says when he made his calculations last fall he did not know how grants had been “represented (in the county’s financial records) in the past.”
For over a year Tobar and his staff have struggled to get the county’s financial records in order. As late as last week, the administrator admitted to commissioners that some county bank statements still had not been reconciled,  three months after Tobar had told commissioners all reconciliations would be brought current.
When the county commission approved funding for additional accounting help, Tobar told The Messenger, “I don’t see the need to bring in outside accounting help.” Tobar said he would rely on a recent high school graduate who is interning in the commissioner’s office and existing staff to complete the bookkeeping.
Carmichael and his staff were finally brought in in December to assist with the bookkeeping in order to provide bond underwriters with the necessary financial information required for the Lake Authority to issue $10 million in bonds to complete the Tired Creek Lake project and finance other county projects including, but not limited to, road projects.
During Tobar’s tenure, the county has had two accounting managers and is currently advertising for a third. Former finance director Mary Mayer was fired on the recommendation of Tobar in Dec. 2013.
Connie Blackman, the county’s most recent accounting manager, resigned the post on Jan. 12 and the effective date of her resignation was Jan. 23, but she never returned to work after submitting her letter of resignation on Jan. 12.
Ms. Blackman was hired in Feb. 2014.
The county administrator had not begun the process of advertising the vacancy until the county commission took action last week and instructed him to advertise the position. An employment ad appears on Page A3 of this issue of The Messenger.
Tobar is now promising county commissioners that all accounts will be reconciled and the county’s accounting system up to date by March 17.

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