This includes bills for food for county inmates.
Upshur County Auditor Janice Tucker responded in a press release Wednesday to statements made Tuesday by Sheriff Anthony Betterton that she was delaying payments on bills from the Sheriff’s Office, including food for inmates.
The sheriff said that the auditor had refused to issue purchase orders for his office, although she had notified vendors that she would not okay payment of their bills without a purchase order.
He said he refused to sign the bills because it was “not proper procedure.” He said she must issue a purchase order, attach a bill to it, and send it to the Commissioners Court to approve payment during the accounts payable section of their semi-monthly meetings.
Shortly after issuing the press release, her office again began issuing purchase orders, clearing the way for the bills to be paid, Betterton said.
Betterton said he was not signing off on bills because “it was not proper procedure.”
In the press release in response to Betterton, Mrs. Tucker said that “State law allows Country Auditors to adopt policies and procedures necessary for the proper spending and accounting of taxpayer dollars. It has historically been the policy of this office, as it is in other counties, to require that the department sign off on all invoices before presenting them for approval by the County Auditor.”
She said the Auditor’s Office could require department heads to verify invoices by affidavit, she had not asked the sheriff to do that.
“I have, in fact, made the invoice approval process easier for the sheriff by simplying requiring that he sign off on the invoices before he brings them to my office for approval.”
Mrs. Tucker said that “this process has historically worked very well,” and that Sheriff Betterton “has always complied with the policy until just recently. . . . It is unclear to me why the Sheriff has taken the position that the rules don’t apply to him. “
She added that she had not denied purchase order requests for purchase of jail food.
Mrs. Tucker also said that while she is appointed by the District Judge, “the District Judge is neither my ‘boss’ nor my ‘supervisor.’ Rather, my ‘boss’ would be the taxpayers of Upshur County and the laws of the State of Texas. . . .”
Betterton said that the relocation of the Auditor’s Office last year from the third floor of the Courthouse to the Justice Center so she could be under closer supervision by the District Judge’s Office indicates that the judge is the auditor’s “boss.”
(Mrs. Tucker’s office had been contacted for comment Tuesday morning about the sheriff’s statements, but was in a meeting and did not respond by deadline.)
Betterton said that the jail food orders being okayed after he went public with the issue “shows that, apparently, bringing it to the taxpayers’ attention, since they are her ‘boss’—has gotten the auditor to start doing her job again.”