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Donations to be shown as departmental revenues in Hubbard County

Accounting transparency is coming to Hubbard County, compliments of its newest commissioner.

Businesswoman Kathy Grell, since taking office in January, has questioned public donations to various county programs, such as K-9, Explorers and Sentence to Serve.

"The donations and expenditures are not reflected in the budget," Auditor Pam Heeren agreed.

"They're kept in a little slush fund," Grell suggested.

"Let's not call it that," Heeren responded.

The donations have been segregated into separate accounts, from which program expenditures are taken, but Grell has pushed for those funds to be included in departmental revenues.

They now will be.

In 2011, donations to the Sentence to Serve program, in which inmates perform yard or maintenance work for townships and the DNR, account for $13,217 of the program's annual revenues. Since 2002, $75,339.59 has been donated, but not reflected in the program's overall revenues. Grell believes those figures are misleading to the public.

In 2011, the K-9 program received $1,060 in donations and it no longer has a dog. That program's donations since 2002 total $13,366.84.

Explorers have received $495 this year. Total donations to that program since 2002 are $12,237.

And, the Sheriff's department gets various donations for equipment that have totaled $45,051.71 since 2002.

"They should be visible," Grell said. "I like the accounting to go full circle. I'd like to see them separated into designated funds."

There has been resistance from program administrators in the past because they don't want their funds commingled and ultimately lost in the shuffle.

But Heeren and Grell agreed there are ways to reveal the donated funds and leave them in each program's discretionary account to roll over at year's end if funds remain.

Some funds sit unused, Heeren pointed out.

"There are attempts to use them for the purpose stated," she said.

In the case of the county K-9 program, Sheriff Cory Aukes hasn't make a determination of whether to revive the program after the department lost its K-9 officer earlier this year.

The county's dog, Vulcan, may be sold to another department, Aukes suggested.

In any event, when budgeting for the 2012 year starts, departmental revenues will reflect the public's largesse.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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