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Audit target release Nov. 18

The state’s performance audit of Lawrence County will not be released to the public until at least Nov. 18, a spokesman for the Ohio Auditor’s Office said Monday.

Auditor’s office personnel met Sept. 25 with county officials to discuss the rough draft of the probe of county finances and practices. At that time, Steve Faulk-ner said the county officials would be given two weeks to respond to the findings in the audit and it would be released to the public some time after that. Faulkner said Monday the process of completing the audit is “on-going.”

“In general when we conduct a performance audit there is a give and take process where we do communicate with officials and allow them an opportunity to respond,” Faulkner said. “Sometimes those responses may cause us to alter the draft of the document and continue to communicate with the entity for whom we are preparing the audit.”

Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens said he understands residents are interested in what the audit has to say. He had hoped it would have been released by now as well.

“I was hoping it would have been out by spring,” Stephens said. “But this is something we don’t have any control over. I wish it had been out earlier. I think it’s important to note this was designed to find the best practices to improve the county and help us to operate as efficiently as possible. This was not meant to be an exercise in finger pointing. That doesn’t get us anywhere. It is meant to improve the way we do things.”

The Lawrence County Commission has dealt with increasing costs and stagnant revenues for the past several years. The county commission asked for the audit in late summer 2007 after opting not to ask voters to approve a tax levy to help increase revenues for the county. The audit was meant to find ways the county might adjust its operations to make ends meet.

“We’re working with county officials to produce a quality audit that provides county officials and taxpayers with a clear and concise snapshot of operations,” Faulkner said.