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Audit finds tax money from '03 still missing as search continues



Published: Thu, April 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A second and final audit is still pending.

By VIRGINIA ROSS

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Nearly $50,000 in county tax money from 2003 remains unaccounted for, according to the results of a final audit sent to the Lawrence County commissioners earlier this month.

The single audit, available for review at the Lawrence County Government Center in New Castle, indicates the money remains missing even though taxpayers had paid the money to the county treasurer's office.

The annual single audit, completed by Maher Duessel of Pittsburgh, is one of two audits of the county government's 2003 finances, and most of its findings have remained consistent with preliminary audit results released last month.

Another one

A second and final audit, conducted by Packer Thomas of New Castle, is expected to be completed and forwarded to the county within the next few weeks. Charleen Micco, county administrator, said she expects the results of both audits to be the similar.

According to the Maher Diesel audit, tax statements from a three-month period in 2003 showed that the missing money, though collected from taxpayers, was not deposited into the county's general checking account. The audit also questioned "stays" placed on properties, including that of county Treasurer Gary F. Felasco, while he was tax claim director in 2003. Stays prevent properties from facing foreclosure for failure to pay real estate taxes.

The county removed Felasco from his position on the tax claim bureau last year when the commissioners learned he had not paid his own property taxes in four years and placed stays on his property.

Meanwhile, county officials said they are reviewing the audit findings and are looking at ways to address problems cited, specifically the treasurer's office.




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