Monday, October 20, 2008

Comedy of Depressing Errors at the Treasurer's Office

It just gets worse and worse for Lynn Jenkins (and the people of Kansas)

When the story broke earlier this week that Jenkins has mismanaged tens of millions of Kansas motor fuel tax dollars for more than six years, both shortchanging and overpaying Kansas counties, one of the more shocking bits of the drama was that her office has still not told the counties how much they had either been over- or underpaid.

That was Thursday.

On Friday, the Treasurer's office pushed out the door a spreadsheet with all the amounts all of the counties were misappropriated. Lovely, right?

Oh, don't count your horses before they're hatched there, Billy- remember who's Treasurer's office we're dealing with here: Good Ol' Lynn "Competent" Jenkins- because the spreadsheet sent to the counties inverse all the numbers!

Yes, we know! Can you believe it? And this woman thinks she can handle the federal budget?

Riley County Commissioner Mike Kearns felt like he had struck gold Friday morning when told the state treasurer's office miscalculated fuel tax revenue sharing and shorted the county $70,000 in the past year.

"I'll take that in a heartbeat," he said. "You bet. We can use every dime."

Then, the No. 2 official in Treasurer Lynn Jenkins' office popped Kearns' bubble.

Jeff Wagaman, assistant state treasurer, said Friday afternoon he had incorrectly interpreted a spreadsheet presented earlier to The Topeka Capital-Journal detailing which of 105 counties were improperly enriched or shortchanged when 2008 shares of the fuel tax were split.

Instead of 40 counties, including Riley, embracing a financial windfall, all actually received too much fuel tax cash from Jenkins. Rather than 65 counties scrambling to return money to the state, all were due cash.

"You're kidding me," Kearns said upon hearing of the reversal of fortune. "This is quite phenomenal."

You got that right, buddy- this is a phenomenal error, a screw up of George Bush proportions.

Riley County isn't alone in being hit with this "Lynn Jenkins Mismanagement Tax"- counties in the 2nd District like Linn, Jackson, Nemaha, Neosho, Pottawatomie and poor little Wilson county all owe the state more than $20,000 in overpayments- with Miami county, too, owing the state back almost $70,000.

Like we said when the story hit- no local government anywhere budgeted any money just in case Lynn Jenkins screwed up, so where this money will come from in counties like Wilson County is anyone's guess, though probably in the form of property tax increases in the next budget cycle.

Wilson County coordinator Kris Marple, interviewed when he was under the impression the county was due a bonus of $22,500, said it might be difficult for counties to return fuel tax revenue they weren't legitimately entitled to spend.

He said flooding the past two years in Wilson County had torn through the budget for road and bridge repair, and all available funding streams had been tapped to address trouble spots.

"We've pinched every penny," Marple said. "We've looked around every corner and looked under every rug."

Folks in counties like Wilson County only wish Lynn Jenkins would have been as careful with money as they are.

As to the counties on the other end, counties like Shawnee, which was shorted more than $1 million through Jenkins' lax accounting, are in a much better position- though who knows how much lower the taxes could be in those counties had they been receiving the correct amount of money from the state all these years.

We will, of course, give Lynn the credit she is due: Tim Shallenburger was the horrible state treasuruer who created this mess- but CPA extraordinataire Lynn Jenkins, Lynn Jenkins who we're supposed to trust with cleaning up Washington, DC, took six years to find the error, waited 2 months to tell the counties there was one, and then waited another 4 months to tell them what they were liable for- only to then have to turn around and say, "Wait, no, we can't read a spreadsheet."

It's sad and it's embarrassing and makes it devestatingly clean we can't trust Lynn Jenkins in Washington.


For a full listing of what each Kansas county is owed or owes back to the state click here.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

it really is shocking someone would run for congress on a message of competence when they knew they had things like this just waiting to come out in the press. it's just devastating to the trust issue, and i dont' think jenkins is going to be able to regain her footing.

Anonymous said...

this is more embarrassing than anything else- i mean, they had already screwed up, just to screw up again...

re-elected nancy boyda!

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