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Nye County on fiscal watch once more

Following a meeting with the Committee on Local Government Finance earlier this week, Nye County is now once again being placed on the state’s fiscal watch list.

This time, however, the designation of fiscal watch comes as a result of longstanding reporting struggles in the Nye County Treasurer’s Office, rather than from budgetary strife within the county.

“Nye County was placed back on fiscal watch Tuesday by the Committee on Local Government Finance during a hearing in Carson City,” Nye County Public Information Officer Arnold Knightly confirmed when reached for comment.

“The Nevada Department of Taxation will execute the watch later this week or early next week through a letter with full terms of what the watch will entail, including reporting requirements and when the county and treasurer’s office need to return before the committee.”

The meeting was attended by Nye County Comptroller Savannah Rucker, Nye County Commission Chairman John Koenig and Nye County Treasurer John Prudhont, Knightly noted.

The Committee on Local Government Finance appears to have concerns regarding the continued lack of timely filing of treasurer’s reports and bank reconciliations, which are required to be completed by Nevada Revised Statute.

This problem has existed for some time, Knightly stated, predating Prudhont’s appointment to the treasurer’s post earlier this year. There has been turmoil in the treasurer’s office for years, coming as a result of multiple changes in staffing and leadership and a lack of cross-training among staff.

“These are issues Prudhont’s office has been working on diligently to correct. The county and treasurer were already having weekly phone meetings with the Nevada Department of Taxation to work on the reporting issues addressed Tuesday,” Knightly explained.

Committee members “agreed that the treasurer’s office has accomplished a great deal toward getting the office on track by completing the treasurer’s reports and bank reconciliation reports through December 2018,” Knightly said.

There was also some concern expressed by the committee over the question of disclosure of the continuing problems in the treasurer’s office at the time that Nye County was relieved of its previous fiscal watch designation last year.

To this, Knightly stated, “Comptroller Savannah Rucker and commission chairman John Koenig both assured the committee they presented the best information they had at the time in 2018 and there was no intention to mislead.”

Fiscal watch is a low-level monitoring of the county and does not mean that the state will be exerting control over the county. It will be, however, providing assistance where necessary, allowing for greater cooperation and exchange of information with the state, Knightly assured.

Prudhont also offered reassurance to the community.

“I have overcome many challenges since I was appointed to the office of Nye County treasurer roughly three and a half months ago and will continue to do so,” he stated. “I also have a great team of highly-qualified deputy treasurers in place now, but need to replace one vacant position and to add a much-needed deputy treasurer to our team moving forward.

“We will continue to work together with the Nevada Department of Taxation to demonstrate that we are consistently, and correctly, accomplishing the many tasks required of this office in a timely fashion. I’m confident that the CLGF will remove the Nye County Treasurer’s Office, results from past mismanagement, from the list of reasons that Nye County was placed back on fiscal watch, before the end of 2019,” Prudhont said.

Rucker also made sure to emphasize that the designation of fiscal watch does not indicate that the county is in any form of financial hardship, reiterating that the county is in a healthy budgetary state.

“This watch is not a financial issue as it was in 2016, but an issue of reporting requirements not being met. The county budget is balanced,” Rucker reported. “My office will continue to work with the treasurer’s office to become compliant and remove the county from fiscal watch. This is a team effort.”

Nye County was last placed on fiscal watch in early 2016 due to several financial issues, including expenditures in excess of budget, a very low county ending fund balance and inappropriate loans of money between the county’s emergency fund and its general fund.

The state continued to monitor the situation in Nye County for more than two years and that designation of fiscal watch was lifted in April 2018. The decision as to how long the new fiscal watch designation will remain in effect is in the hands of the Committee on Local Government Finance.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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