On Sept. 4, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that supports a forensic audit of Buncombe County Government. The forensic audit can identify issues that may not be addressed in the federal criminal investigation but are critical to Buncombe County from an organizational standpoint. Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara stated, “I think tax payers and members of our community deserve this. We need to find out and understand everything that has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in.”
Commissioners are responsible for the county oversight and believe that this audit is vital in restoring public trust in local government. Commissioner Al Whitesides commented: “As a taxpayer, a forensic audit is critical. A forensic audit will not only help us catch the dishonest people, but also look at our infrastructure and let us know what we need to put in place to help protect us and make sure what has happened will never happen again.”
The purpose of the forensic audit is to identify any misuse of taxpayer funds not already disclosed through the criminal investigation and to identify issues related to employee misconduct. It will be performed by an experienced outside agency with no previous or existing contracts with the county and will take place after the completion of the federal criminal investigation and the FY18 county internal audit. “This is a step in a direction to find and fix errors in policy and procedure,” said Commissioner Joe Belcher. “It’s got to be done at the right time, and we must be able to review the cost and scope.” The cost and outside firm recommendations will be presented to Commissioners for approval.
Commission Chair Brownie Newman stated that he expects the audit to occur in 2019 after the federal and internal audits are completed. “This is necessary step in the long run, we need to look at everything and leave no stone unturned,” noted Newman.