Audit underway after $92,000 water bill left unpaid

County of Columbus

Tabor Correctional paid a $92,822.69 water bill to the county Tuesday after the state was not billed for water usage for more than a year.

County Manager Eddie Madden said Friday he was made aware of the problem last week, and immediately took steps to correct the error. The prison was not billed for water usage between April 2020 and March.

The prison has 1,752 inmates, plus staff.

“A bill has been generated and mailed to the Department of Corrections,” Madden said.

“Apparently the county utility operation switched to a different billing system and we didn’t get a bill for water usage at Tabor Correctional for more than a year,” DOC Spokesman John Bull said.

In addition to a lack of bills for 13 months, Bull said, a faulty meter at the minimum security custody unit led to billing questions about consumption there.

“It appears the issues have been worked out,” Bull said.

  Madden said bills and records are being scrutinized at the utility department to determine if there are any other discrepancies.

“I am not aware of any other large account with an outstanding balance,” he said, “but our finance office is currently performing an internal audit of the utilities department to make sure there are no other issues.”

County Finance Officer Bobbie Faircloth was placed on leave and escorted from the administrative building in March after Madden’s new management team discovered more than $750,000 in errors in the county books over the course of several years. The problems were so severe that the annual external audit by Thompson accounting firm required the assistance of another accounting firm.

Faircloth is still an employee of the county, and remains on leave. She makes just under $75,000 a year.

About Jefferson Weaver 1954 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].