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Supes OK audit of assessor’s office

MIKE RODMAN, Sun News Service

Auditor-Controller Bruce Bielefelt will conduct an audit of the county Assessor’s Office, to determine if allegations of stolen equipment and questionable compensation are true.

The Board of Supervisors gave its blessing to the procedure Tuesday, in response to recent complaints lodged by department employees regarding the temporary employment of Michael and Carol Jenaye. Interim County Administrator Roy Pederson requested the audit, but Bielefelt wanted board approval.

Supervisor Karen Knecht was the lone dissenter, casting a protest vote. Knecht said the audit is part of Bielefelt’s regular duties and a specific resolution to perform it only serves to legitimize Beilefelt’s contention that it is a special request.

“This is the most ludicrous thing we’ve ever done,” Knecht said after the vote.

Knecht grilled Bielefelt for nearly one hour on how he intends to do the audit and why he thinks it’s outside the purview of his normal duties. She also questioned whether Bielefelt’s office should handle the audit, given that questionable computer purchases may have been approved by him.

Bielefelt said additional man-hours will be needed and that the audit is a discretionary duty, as opposed to a regular service of his office. He added that an audit by an outside firm could cost $20,000 – an option the board said it may want to pursue if Bielefelt’s audit is not satisfactory.

Michael Jenaye started as a temporary employee, working on new computer software, in May 1997. His wife, Carol, joined him in November 1997 and they continued in that capacity until December – well beyond the county’s 1,000-hour limit for temporary employees.

Since December, department employees have complained about missing equipment and lucrative overtime paid to the Jenayes. Pederson said an audit is the best way to settle the matter and that it will cover five points, including:

– Physical reconciliation of fixed assets – items costing more than $2,500.

– A list of computers and other computer-related equipment costing less than $2,500.

– A list of all reimbursements made to the Jenayes.

– A statement of compliance with county policy, regarding all travel advances made to the Jenayes.

– A list of any companies owned by the Jenayes, which may have done business with the county.

Bielefelt said it would be beyond the expertise of his office to also determine whether the work done by the Jenayes was worth the money paid to them. He recommended hiring an outside firm if the board wants that assessment.

Both Michael Jenaye and Assessor Art Green have denied any wrongdoing and have said an audit will disprove any claims otherwise.


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