• Bill Raines

Lawrence County Commissioners Responds to CARES Act and ARP Funds Disbursement and Audit

LAWRENCE COUNTY - (March 30, 2022) - The Lawrence County Commissioners responded to the disbursement of CARES Act and the recent audit.


The Lawrence County Commissioners are still getting guidance on the American Rescue Plan Funds and how to properly disburse those funds according to Lawrence County Commissioner President Rodney Fish.


Lawrence County Commissioners


Lawrence County was given $1.4 Million in CARES Act Funds and will receive $8.8 Million in ARP Funding.


The Lawrence County Commissioners have come under fire after Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department requested approximately $89,000 in CARES Act Funds for SCBA's.



" We had to deny their request because if we gave Marion Township VFD, $89,000 we would have to give other volunteer fire departments $89,000 and there was not $800,000 left to give to the remaining fire departments," said Dustin Gabhart.


" This was not because we thought less of the fire departments. Keep in mind the guidance in how the CARES - Act Money could be disbursed changed," said Gabhart.


There were no other requests received by the other volunteer fire departments according to Gabhart and Lawrence County EMA Director Valarie Luchuaer.


A committee of Mary Kinser, Lawrence County Health Nurse, Eugene McCracken, Jody Edwards, Lawrence County Auditor, and Valarie Luchauer, Lawrence County EMA director served on the committee.


Lawrence County Zephyr has asked for the minutes of those meetings and they are not available.


According to Lawrence County EMA Director the Lawrence County volunteer fire departments were given personal protection equipment. As well as all the public schools were given PPE.



"As far as the audit of county offices, and CARES Act money conducted by Indiana State Board of Accounts, the audit detailed accounting errors. Expenditures was not placed in the proper line item. There was nothing illegal done by any county official, and there is no money missing," according to Gabhart.


The $200,000 that remained in the balance of CARES -Act Funds have been appropriated to the General Fund for payroll expenditures during the pandemic. However, there were no records of this transfer during a Lawrence County Council meeting.


Valarie Luchauer, only appeared twice before the Lawrence County Council to purchase digital signs for the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department in 2020, and later to ask the Lawrence County Council to deny CARES Act funds being allocated for a fourth court room at the Lawrence County Plaza. The money allocated to the court room would deplete the funds.


The county auditor did not upload information properly to the State of Indiana in timely manner as requested by the State Board of Accounts for 2020 -2022.


In addition, Auditor Jessica Staggs left the following statement with the Lawrence County Zephyr.


"The Auditor is responsible for accurate and timely reporting of the Annual Financial Report

(AFR). As a newly elected Auditor in 2021, the report was very challenging as I was in the early phase of the job and learning, all while trying to complete the report for the prior Auditor’s work.

Description of Corrective Action Plan: We made recommended corrections per State Board of Accounts to the 2020 AFR. I have since completed the AFR for 2021 both timely and accurately. Once all the data was uploaded and completed in Gateway, myself and my 1st Deputy reviewed the information entered for any errors and then initialed the documents to show that the information was verified for accuracy. Anticipated Completion Date: I believe the errors were corrected when working on the 2021 AFR that was submitted on March 1, 2022," Jessica Staggs, Lawrence County Auditor. The Auditor is responsible for accurate and timely reporting of the Annual Financial Report (AFR). As a newly elected Auditor in 2021, the report was very challenging as I was in the earlyphase of the job and learning, all while trying to complete the report for the prior Auditor’s work. Description of Corrective Action Plan: We made recommended corrections per State Board of Accounts to the 2020 AFR. I have since completed the AFR for 2021 both timely and accurately. Once all the data was uploaded and completed in Gateway, myself and my 1st Deputy reviewed the information entered for any errors and then initialed the documents to show that the information was verified for accuracy. Anticipated Completion Date: I believe the errors were corrected when working on the 2021 AFR that was submitted on March 1, 2022,"


The Lawrence County Council had no control over who received or how the CARES -Act money would be disbursed. The Lawrence County Commissioners and committee had complete control over the CARES -Act funds.


Scott Smith President Lawrence County Council


Scott Smith was informed by the Lawrence Commissioners yesterday, that the Lawrence County Council will have better input over the $8.8 Million in ARP funds.


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