Auditor to take look at Bourbon-Nicholas jail authority

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Kentucky State Auditor Mike Harmon announced Wednesday his office will audit the Bourbon County-Nicholas County Regional Jail Authority.


“We discovered the Bourbon-Nicholas Regional Jail has never had an audit since it was formed nearly a decade ago,” Harmon said in his report.  “This is simply not acceptable given the millions of dollars in taxpayer funding the Bourbon-Nicholas Regional Jail Authority receives.  In the spirit of accountability and transparency, my office has decided to do an audit of the Bourbon-Nicholas Regional Jail Authority covering fiscal years 2015 through 2018.”


A 1984 law allows two or more counties to establish a regional jail through ordinances. Since 1984, four multi-county regional jails have been established under that law:


--Big Sandy Regional Detention Center (Johnson, Lawrence, Magoffin and Martin counties), which opened in 1986.


--Three Rivers Regional Jail (Lee, Owsley and Wolfe counties), which opened in 2001.


--Kentucky River Regional Jail (Knott and Perry counties), which opened in 2005.


--Bourbon County-Nicholas County Regional Jail Authority, which began operating in 2010.


According to a data bulletin issued by Harmon’s office, two of the regional jails, Big Sandy and Three Rivers, have complied with state law requiring audits, with the results to be filed with the Department for Local Government.  Kentucky River has an audit for 2016 and 2017 now in progress by an outside CPA firm, and Harmon is awaiting the findings before deciding if his office will conduct one for the 2018 fiscal year. 


“Our data bulletin couldn’t provide reliable financial information for two of the four regional jails because they have not completed audits as required by law,” Harmon said.  “It is important to ensure that regional jails, and all Special Purpose Governmental Entities, are operating in a way that is transparent and fiscally responsible.  Conducting these audits ourselves is one way to ensure the taxpayers’ interests are protected.” 


Harmon also noted that DLG is required under state law to notify his office of any reports or non-compliance and has not done so.


In response to a letter Harmon sent to DLG notifying them about failing to report non-compliance, General Counsel Greg Ladd stated ongoing changes to state law, exempting some SPGEs and exempting others at certain times or under specific circumstances, has added complexity to an already cumbersome process under the law.  Ladd said they had to contract with an outside software programming firm to design and a maintain a new system able to better handle the changes.

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