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Chairman: Findings in, but audit still 2-3 weeks away
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An auditor’s findings on the 2012 county audit were presented to Effingham County officials Friday afternoon, but the audit itself won’t be ready for another couple of weeks, county commission Chairman Wendall Kessler said Monday.


Kessler said the audit won’t be completed for another two to three weeks, after county staff has its chance to address the auditor’s findings.


“This is a process that happens year-in and year-out,” Kessler said.


Kessler said he has not seen the auditor’s findings.


“There’s no reason for me to, at this point,” he said.


With the auditor’s findings in hand, county staff now has a chance to prepare its response, which will be included when the final audit is presented to the board of commissioners.


The audit originally was scheduled to be delivered to commissioners late last year.


“We should have gotten the audit last December, and it didn’t happen,” Kessler said. “This process has gotten strung out.”


Kessler has received numerous phone calls about what may be transpiring at the county administrative complex since portions of the unfinished audit were leaked. Some commissioners have said they have no confidence in county administrator David Crawley or county clerk Patrice Crawley, but other commissioners remain in support of the couple.


“There’s a lot of mad people, I can tell you that,” Kessler said.


The chairman also has been receiving calls from business owners about what is taking place with the audit and any potential fallout.


“The fact of the matter is I’m getting phone calls from people, from people looking to place businesses in Effingham County having second thoughts, from businesses that are already here and looking to make an investment having second thoughts,” Kessler said. “I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to alleviate these businesses’ fears,” he said.


Commissioners were scheduled to vote on an audit for the Keep Effingham Beautiful account at their last meeting. But because the commissioners did not meet for a lack of a quorum, no vote on that audit was conducted.


Three commissioners — Forrest Floyd, Vera Jones and Phil Kieffer — attended the meeting anyway and Floyd and Kieffer told the Herald last week they expected to get resignations from County Administrator David Crawley and county clerk Patrice Crawley. Floyd also said he had no confidence in the upper management of the county.


Kessler said Monday that it is the board’s job to ensure there are proper policies, procedures and controls in place.


“Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the board of commissioners, not an employee,” he said.


“When this audit is finished, there will not be any misappropriation of funds in it,” Kessler added. “It’s my job to defend everybody. Right now, I have no information that tells me we need to be prosecuting anybody. I still believe you are innocent until proven guilty.”


In a statement late Thursday, Kessler called for the audit’s process to be carried out before accusations of possible wrongdoing are leveled. He echoed that sentiment Monday.


“When you start trying to short-circuit the process, you get rumors and situations that just did not exist, and that’s what’s happened here,” Kessler said. “Let’s get the facts and present the facts and go from there.”