Starr County audit in danger of not being completed on time

RIO GRANDE CITY – Newly appointed County Auditor Boyd Carter is facing a tight deadline to complete the county audit by June 30, which he told commissioners is behind schedule.

Carter, a retired real estate lender, was appointed interim auditor by the board of judges May 8, replacing Rosalinda Guerra, whose term was not renewed.

“Since this is my first, official communication, I wish I had better news to report,” he told the commissioners Monday. “I am reporting to you that the timely completion of the audit of the Starr County financial statements of Sept. 30, 2016 is in jeopardy.”

Carter explained that he and the staff do not know how to use the county’s accounting system to its full capabilities, slowing them down.

“We’re not using the full capabilities of this system and as a substitute of the automated abilities of the system, we’re doing everything manually and with the current staff, that’s impossible to keep up,” he said.

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera pointed out that the previous auditor had managed to complete audits on time using that system and purchasing a new one was not an option.

“We don’t have the money for a new system, I’m putting that right out there,” Vera said. “We cannot get a new system, so somehow, someway the system that we now have either we start using all the features that are in there or we continue doing it the way we’ve done it before and getting the audit out on time.”

Carter said he understood the gravity of the consequences of not completing the audit on time. Without a completed audit, the county will not have access to grant funds.

He said he was exploring different options to ensure it would be completed including requesting assistance from county auditor’s staff in neighboring counties, requesting training from the vendor of the accounting system, and discussing with the board of judges the possibility of getting paid professional help from someone who knows how to use the system.

“My plan B and C is I’m going to get a list of all the grants that the county has opened and I’m going to contact the various agencies and entities that supply those grants and I’m going to send them a nicely worded letter asking for an extension of time,” he said.

Vera assured him he would assist in any way to ensure the audit was completed in time.

“This is due or die for the court,” Vera said.

Carter said he was brought on by the board of judges because they needed immediate help but stressed to the commissioners that he was only there temporarily.

“I’m not looking for a second career,” he said. “I told the judges that I’ll come in and help until I can get this ship back on the right course and then they will find a permanent replacement and I’ll fade off into the sunset and go back to being happily retired.”