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The York County Recorder of Deeds Office improperly accounted for $2.1 million of taxpayer money in an escrow account, leaving it unable to distribute the funds to the rightful recipients.

On Friday, at the county commissioners meeting alongside Recorder of Deeds Laura Shue, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the findings from an audit his office conducted between 2015 and 2017. 

Shue was not in the position during the period described in DePasquale's audit. 

“My team traced the problem of the lack of accountability for local and county funds in the account back to 2009,” DePasquale said. “It is long overdue that this is addressed. ... It is critical that every penny of tax revenue be fully accounted for and readily identifiable at all times.”  

York County is the only county in the state to fail to properly manage the funds, he added.

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The escrow account is meant to hold certain fees — such as real estate transfer fees — that are then distributed to the county, municipalities and school districts.

But since 2009, there have not been any monthly reports detailing the origins of the funds or to which entity they should be distributed, leaving a pot of taxpayer funds without a place to go.

The same accounting issue was discovered by a separate audit released in 2016, which covered 2009-2014. The funds not properly accounted for then totaled about $1.7 million. 

When the auditor's office brought up the 2014 findings to then-Recorder of Deeds Randi Reisinger, DePasquale said, she and her office “basically thumbed their nose at me” and did nothing to address the issue. 

Reisinger could not be immediately reached for comment. 

Shue first took office in January 2018 and inherited the accounting dilemma, and DePasquale praised her Friday for working to address it now. 

“At the time of my election, I was unaware of the issues in the finds of this office,” Shue said. “However, I promised change, and I am up for the challenge. (The audit) provides helpful insight so I can focus on improving transparency in certain areas.” 

The office is now working with its software company to locate and correct manual computer errors that led to the accounting failure, Shue added. The office is also bringing back the practice of completing monthly liability reports. 

Once the office is able to locate the information lacking in the previous accounts of the funds, it will distribute the money properly.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.

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