News & Updates from Commissioner Barrett



Decatur County has been involved in several law suits against Waste Industries - the parent of the company that manages our landfill.  

In a recent hearing in Federal Court in Jackson, the judge granted the county's Motion for Summary Judgement and allowed for the suit to include two additional defendants in a Motion to Join Parties.  

For complete details, please read the front page article in The News Leader.  

Click here to go to their FB site at TNL Today.



TNStar: TN Comptrollers Blast Decatur County for Mismanaging Taxpayer Money

The Office of the Comptroller for Tennessee has issued their audit report for the fiscal year ending June 2018.  The report cites Decatur County on several issues regarding mismanagement of funds, accounts, etc.  

A link to the entire audit findings can be found on the State Comptroller's site here.  

A report by Tennessee Star media outlines the basic audit findings.  See text below:

By Chris Butler


The Decatur County government has just received less than admirable state audit findings. With 11 findings as opposed to the previous year’s eight, that’s putting it mildly.

In a press release, for instance, Comptrollers say this year’s results “leave much room for improvement.”

The audit findings reveal many problems including expenditures exceeding appropriations authorized by the County Commission, failure to reconcile accounts, and poor record keeping. Findings were written for the offices of County Mayor, Road Supervisor, Director of Schools, and Assessor of Property,” Comptrollers said in the emailed press release.

“Auditors also had to make material adjustments to the county’s financial statements to ensure accuracy. This is a strong indicator that the county has ineffective controls over the maintenance of its accounting records.”

The audit also includes an adverse opinion on the county’s component units. That is because the financial statements do not include the Decatur County General Hospital. These financial statements were not available from other auditors at the date of Comptroller’s report.

Decatur County is in west Tennessee.

Among only a few of the audit’s findings:

  • Expenditures exceeded total appropriations approved by the County Commission in the General and Special Purpose funds by $516,433 and $161,968, respectively.
  • Salaries exceeded appropriations in 12 of 92 salary line-items of the General Fund by amounts ranging from $306 to $8,060 and in one of nine salary line- items of the Solid Waste/Sanitation Fund by $1,114.
  • The county mayor’s personnel policy permits employees to accumulate earned but unused vacation leave. County personnel provided auditors with individual accrued leave records, which auditors tested for accuracy. There were no summarized records provided, only individual sheets for each employee. There were no subsidiary payroll records provided to support the leave used.

In a written response, county officials said they concurred with all the findings.

Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson said in the press release that members of the county’s audit committee should hold regular meetings to address each of these issues.

Unfortunately, the audit committee has not been conducting business,” Wilson wrote.

“Most Tennessee counties are receiving improved audit results. It is concerning to see Decatur County trend in the wrong direction.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to

Comm. Barrett Releases Statement on Audit Findings

The audit recently issued from the State Comptroller is from the fiscal year ending in June 30, 2018, just prior to last year's election.  

The findings seem to be indicative of the way governance is not taken seriously in our county. Personally, I cannot understand dismissing the suggestions from the State by the mayor or commission. 

The audit reveals that we desperately need a central finance department with checks and balances - including sensible policies that help to protect malfeasance such as the requirement of two signatures on every check. We currently have neither. 

The various accounting units scattered throughout the various departments do not allow for a simple snapshot of our county's financial status.  Having no standardized protocols spanning all departments and divisions of our county, creates a perfect scenario for corruption to occur. Every official or department head should care that checks and balances are in place in order to protect them from accusations and at the least the appearance of impropriety. 

Likewise, the commission needs to understand that they are not merely elected to attend a monthly meeting. We are sworn to govern the affairs of the taxpayers' money and to be the oversight for all functions where taxpayer money is involved.  

Failure of this basic understanding of the responsibility of our oaths led to the situation with our hospital crisis - where it was left to flounder and be mismanaged with no consistent oversight and no one accepting responsibility. 

I believe that it will take the voice of the people demanding more attention to the responsibilities of the elected officials.   It will also require the voters to take responsibility to assure that they elect people who have the experience and qualifications to manage the county and our finances.


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