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Efforts continue to correct financial errors in Preston

KINGWOOD — Work continues on financial statements for the Preston County Sheriff’s Department.

Melissa Hardy, a CPA working with the department, told Preston County Commission this week that both she and Sheriff Paul Pritt are working to straighten out a mistake.

Earlier, Pritt discussed a faulty system that will not allow his office to generate monthly financial reports. He said when the tax deputies input data into the system, it reads that data incorrectly and prints out inaccurate reports. He said the system is one he inherited when he took office.

“We’re trying to make it work,” Pritt said. “We’ve been working on this for a long time trying to get it fixed. When you’re dealing with multiple accounts, it takes time.”

He said only a handful of counties in West Virginia still use the system being used by the Preston tax office. Most other counties have upgraded.

In November, County Clerk Linda Huggins told commissioners she was not happy about a miscalculation concerning $500,000. She said she told commissioners they had more money than they had ever had and it was accumulating a lot of extra money in carryover. That wasn’t the case.

Huggins said the $500,000 was basically money from the fire excess levy that the tax office was told to put into the general county fund. It was later discovered that a percentage of the money should have gone the local fire departments.

“It was a misdirection of where the fees were to go to, based on advice at conception. We want to make this right. I don’t want to put my name to anything that’s not right. We have a CPA working on it and we sent out pages and pages of numbers. Some of the stuff was from 2006, 2011 and 2018. We’ve identified the problem and we’re trying to fix it,” Pritt said.

The problem with the $500,000 has been solved, but other problems remain.

“We’re working on August and September, where something is wrong. I wanted this to be done six months ago. It could be something wasn’t reconciled that should have been reconciled,” Hardy said.

Commissioners also voted to renew the one-year lease for the Society for Preservation of the McGrew House. The society has a 30-year lease, but it has to be renewed each year — 2025 is the final year of the 30-year lease.

Commissioners also approved the use of the courthouse lawn for the Summer Fest.

Commission voted to proclaim April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

During commissioners’ comments, Commissioner Samantha Stone said there are roads closed in Preston County due to the rain. She said some secondary roads are washed out and several streams are out of their borders.

The next meeting of the Preston County Commission will be 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.