Local News

June 10, 2013

Murray court finds $300,000

Murray Magistrate Court continues work

Murray County officials are still working to account for an extra $300,000 sitting in the Magistrate Court’s bank account for no immediately apparent reason.

Chief Magistrate L. Gale Buckner said she believes the additional money should have been paid to various beneficiaries, but sorting out all the details will likely be a lengthy process. She said she anticipates knowing more within a few weeks.

Buckner, who was appointed to the position last November after former chief magistrate Bryant Cochran resigned under scrutiny for several alleged ethics issues, said she learned shortly after taking office that the magistrate office had an unexplained large amount of money in a bank account.

The average monthly amount in the account for about the past year before she took office was between $250,000 and $300,000, she said. By comparison, she said, the average monthly amount in the comparable office in Whitfield County, where the population is more than double Murray’s, is about $100,000. The average in counties Murray’s size is between $40,000 and $50,000, she said.

Buckner said she plans to ask the county’s independent auditor, R.M. Dobbs and Co. of Calhoun, to conduct an audit solely to find out where the money belongs once the company is finished completing the general audit for all county departments. She said the additional work will not be an overall audit of the office but will focus only on finding where the extra money belongs. County Finance Director Tommy Parker said state law requires a general audit for the county every year, and he expects this one to be complete by June 30.

“We would be involved in funding (the additional work for Magistrate Court), so that would be something that would be discussed,” Parker said. “That decision has not been made, although it wouldn’t be a huge formality to make that decision.”

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