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2018 City News Releases

Posted on: March 28, 2018

Accounting firm completes audit of Municipal Court

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Certified accounting firm RubinBrown LLP has completed an audit report of Springfield-Municipal Court for transactions from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. The firm reported that the court’s operations have adequate internal controls.

  

The City hired RubinBrown in 2014 to create a three-year audit plan of the City’s departments. Visit the City’s Open Data page to view audits completed.

  

The audit report identified best practices already in place and made observations and recommendations on how to improve processes.

  

The following procedures were completed as part of the audit:

  • Identification and review of existing policies and procedures.
  • In-person interviews with court personnel to gain an understanding of court processes.
  • Observation of the court’s cash reconciliation and collection procedures to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the process.
  • Review of segregation of duties within the court.
  • Sample reviews of:
  • monthly Office of State Courts Administration (OSCA) summaries
  • outgoing bond checks
  • payments in suspense
  • voids and refunds
  • over/under payments
  • waived fines and costs.
  • Evaluation of the calculation of the court’s annual performance metrics published in the City’s annual budget report.
  • Data analysis on the types of cases processed by the court in FY 2017.

  

Best practices


Based on RubinBrown’s review, the court has adequate internal controls.

 

The following are some of the observations indicative of the court’s adherence to best practice internal controls:

  • The accounting services representative has several controls in place during the daily close process to ensure all funds are captured and the deposit is prepared correctly. Daily reconciliations are performed to the penny.

  • The court administrator, chief judge and the Finance department personnel perform adequate reconciliations that are independent of the cashier and are designed to ensure that all funds collected by the court reach the bank and are recorded in Oracle.

  • The court utilizes two-person control for access to sensitive supplies; no key holder to the accounting office has access to the safe combination and vice versa.

  • The court administrator performs a variety of periodic audits designed to identify unusual or incomplete transactions, as well as unauthorized changes to the system of record.

  • The accounting services representative maintains a physical log for the cash drawers and bond check stock that cashiers are required to sign whenever they receive cash or check stock.

  

Observations and Recommendations


  • The court has substantial key man risk related to its Application System 400 (AS/400) system administrator, meaning that there is only the one system administrator. RubinBrown recommends seeking out a qualified employee from the City’s Information Systems department to shadow the system administrator on an ongoing basis as soon as possible.

  • Each year, the chief judge calculates the performance measures manually, and the time period used to calculate the court’s performance measures in the City’s annual budget was not stated. RubinBrown recommends creating documented procedures that describe how performance measures are calculated and consider automating the process, as well as disclose on the City budget the time period used to calculate the metrics when different than the fiscal year.

  • A portion of online payments made by defendants does not automatically upload to AS/400. When this happens, the accounting services representative must refund the original customer payment and instruct the customer to pay in person, by phone or mail. RubinBrown recommends the court, in conjunction with the City’s IS department, determine the root cause of the issue and why certain payments are blocked from reaching AS/400.

  • The court administrator is required to report the court’s monthly revenue figures to OSCA. In a sample of three monthly reports, the reported bond refund figure for one month was incorrect by $5,000 due to clerical oversight. RubinBrown recommends the court administrator utilize the monthly bond checklist report to supplement the accuracy of the reported bond refund total on the monthly reports to OSCA. The court implemented this procedural change immediately.

  • Significant manual processes are required to enter data into the court’s system of record because the Springfield Police Department’s and the court’s systems do not interface. Manual routing and data entry increases the risk of clerical error or omission. RubinBrown recommends exploring opportunities to purchase or develop a system that will process citations electronically from the SPD to payment at the court, considering the effects of state mandates regarding record management systems.

  • By law, the court is not permitted to issue arrest warrants for unpaid fines and costs. Therefore payment plans for defendants must be reissued periodically, which then must be approved by the chief judge. RubinBrown recommends the court consider purchasing a software solution to track and automate payment plans issued by the court, and for the chief judge to prepare a standard order that would allow court personnel to extend payment plans.

  • The court collects payment for “violations bureau” tickets, which must be paid directly by the defendant without appearing before the judge. They may not be paid online at this time. RubinBrown recommends considering allowing these to be paid online once the online payment issue addressed earlier in the report is resolved. Additional online payments, when working correctly, will reduce the costs of collection while increasing convenience for defendants.

  • In the FY 2017 Municipal Division Summary Reporting form submitted monthly to OSCA, the subtotal for disbursements of costs, fees, surcharges and bonds forfeited was presented in an inconsistent manner. Seven months of reports did not include the “other disbursements” category. RubinBrown recommends determining which method of displaying totals and subtotals is most appropriate for reporting to OSCA and ensure that revenue figures are being calculated and presented in a consistent manner from month to month. The court implemented the procedural change immediately. The court administrator reviewed the FY 2017 summary reports and submitted corrected reports to OSCA, the City and court management.

 

Zone 3 Councilman Mike Schilling is the chair of City Council's Finance and Administration Committee, which reviewed the audit. Other members of the committee include Zone 4 Councilman Matthew Simpson and general councilmen Richard Ollis and Craig Hosmer. The committee’s areas of responsibility are:

  • fees and charges for City services
  • economic development
  • federal and state assistance programs
  • monitoring of the internal audit plan
  • making recommendations to Council regarding audit findings.

“Internal audits provide important information to the City’s leadership team, as well as accountability to the taxpayers,” Mayor Ken McClure said.

The Municipal Court audit is part of Council's approved annual audit plan and is available on the City's website.

 

About the Municipal Court 

The City of Springfield Municipal Court is a division of the 31st judicial circuit of Greene County. The court’s judges are appointed by City Council. The annual budget is about $2 million, or 2 percent of the City’s General Fund budget. The majority of violations dealt with by the court are traffic related.


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For more information, contact: Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott, 417-864-1009 (office), 417-380-3352 (cell) or cscott@springfieldmo.gov or Finance Director David Holtmann, 417-864-1632 or dholtmann@springfieldmo.gov.

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