2011-02-10 / Front Page

State Auditor General Issues Clean Report

Six county offices examined in 2005-2008 audit
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz
STAFF WRITER

Fulton County Prothonotary Patty Suders Fix announced this week six offices falling under her jurisdiction were given a clean report by the state auditor general, who recently completed a four-year examination of income and expenses.

In the report beginning January 1, 2005, and ending December 31, 2008, the office of Auditor General Jack Wagner evaluated the statements of the Fulton County Clerk of Common Pleas, Probation and Parole Office, Prothonotary, Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court, all overseen by Fix.

“We are mandated ... to audit the accounts of each county officer to determine whether all monies collected on behalf of the commonwealth have been correctly assessed, reported and promptly remitted,” stated Wagner. “ ... The results of our tests disclosed no instances of noncompliance or other matters that are required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards.”

In reviewing the financial statements of the clerk of the Court of Common Pleas/Probation and Parole Office, the county received $312,255 in revenue. The largest amount in income came from offender supervision fees, which totalled $91,404. Other areas bringing in high amounts of revenue for probation and parole are miscellaneous state fines and costs, $52,058; Department of Transportation, $48,900; crime victims’ compensation costs, $25,660; crime commission costs/victim witness service costs, $16,915; and $16,222 from the Office of Victims’ Services costs.

While that department brought in $312,255 on behalf of the state, the county in turn disbursed $312,370 to the commonwealth. As a result of a slight overpayment, the county is slated to be reimbursed $115 to that specific department.

The office of prothonotary was recorded as having brought in an accordingly disbursed $16,367, the findings from the auditor general revealed. Of that amount, $1,940 came from divorce complaint surcharges and $12,243 was from the judicial computer system. The remaining funds were from protection-from-abuse surcharges, contempt fines, criminal charge information system fees and writ taxes.

Realty transfer taxes, as it is specifically related to the state, totalled $1,520,396 for the recorder of deeds minus $15,204 in commissions. In explaining the realty transfer tax further, Wager stated tax is a “documentary stamp tax of 1 percent of the value of the interest in real property transferred by the deed.”

Meanwhile through the register of wills, inheritance taxes tallied $1,894,968 in income and in turn disbursements to the commonwealth.

The auditor general’s examination report showed the Clerk of Orphans’ Court collected a total of $11,411 on behalf of the state, with individual categories listed as marriage license taxes, marriage license application surcharges, marriage license declaration fees and judicial computer system/access to justice fees. In breaking down the categories further, Wagner reported the marriage license tax represents a 50- cent tax on all marriage licenses filed, while the marriage license application surcharge is a $10 fee per application. In addition, the marriage license declaration fee is a $13 fee imposed for the issuance of a marriage license or declaration and for returns to the Department of Health. A total of $2.50 will be used by the county where the license is issued, and $10.50 is remanded to the commonwealth.

In making this announcement, Fix reminded citizens that the income and disbursements show in the report only represents state collections and not money staying within the county.

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