Interim Auditor Claims Starr Co. Judge is to Blame for Audit Incompletion

2 years 8 months 2 days ago Friday, July 28 2017 Jul 28, 2017 July 28, 2017 8:21 PM July 28, 2017 in News

RIO GRANDE CITY – More details are emerging about the incompletion of a Starr County audit.

Starr County Interim Auditor Boyd Carter provided CHANNEL 5 NEWS with a copy of his auditor's report. Carter planned to deliver the report at the commissioners court meeting on Monday, but it wasn't an item listed on the agenda.

The auditor claims in the report:

"In spite of the reports to county judge Vera urging him to remedy the lack of accountability in most of the county offices, limited, if any efforts appear to have ever been made to remedy this critical situation, which resulted in last-minute or untimely audit completions for the last ten to fifteen years and the apparent misappropriation of hundreds of thousands of dollars by previous employees of the Starr County Tax Assessors Office."

In the report, Carter states "almost none" of Starr County's more than 90 funds were ready for an audit, only five to 10 percent of the audit was complete and the auditor's office was operating without up-to-date filing or accounting systems at the time of his appointment in May.

Starr County's fiscal year ends in September.

He said County Judge Eloy Vera, who also serves as chief budget officer for the county, is responsible for the conditions that resulted in the incompletion of the audit.

Carter said Vela was notified of these problems by external auditors for more than a decade. 

"When they have come in, they give us a clean bill of health," said Vera.

The auditor also states:

"I will not just fill in blanks and create numbers in order to satisfy the county judge with an audit that is false, misleading, and therefore possibly criminal in nature."

Vera vehemently denied these claims.

"Never," said Vera. "Believe me, you know, I'm judicial. And I know the consequences of breaking the law. I'm now going to tell you I have a halo, but I make damn sure I don't break laws! I follow them."

Vera said he and auditor Carter had a chance to meet earlier this week. Vera believes they reached common ground on the progression of the audit.

"I think we cleared the air," said Vera. "A lot of it might have just been emotions more than anything. And people trying to convince you of things. But I think both he and I discussed it and I think we're over it. We can work."

Earlier this month, we reported HUD will not allow Starr County to apply for CDBG funding for the next two years as a result of the incomplete audit.

Carter will formally present his findings at a commissioners court meeting in early August.

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