Steve Kelly, deputy director of the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDOC), has expressed concern over the financial management associated with the Sawyer Fire Station project. The KAN STEP project was submitted by Pratt County to the state of Kansas on behalf of the Sawyer Fire District.

This is a project where in-kind work is counted as a portion of the project's total cost. Volunteers from the Sawyer Fire District were to erect the facility and funding from the Kansas Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was to provide the funds for the materials.

According to a letter from Kelly dated Jan. 29th, 2013, the county submitted an invoice and checks to CDBG Field Representative Linda Hunsicker, in support of Request #15 for payment which was insufficient.

"Our review revealed a shortfall of support documentation for over $13,000 of those costs," wrote Kelly. "Also submitted for processing was Request for Payment #16 that lacks over $19,000 in documentation.

"Financial management concerns with this grant have been previously identified," continued Kelly. "Findings were initially documented in the Dec. 9, 2010, monitoring letter, and later in deficiencies identified in letters dated July 26, 2012, and Dec. 18, 2012. We have also previously requested, but have yet to receive, an updated ledger showing all credits and expenditures.

Because of the deficiencies, KDOC is asking Pratt County to hire an independent auditor with CPA credentials, to conduct a financial audit at Pratt County's expense.

"No further funds will be released, or action taken leading to close-out of this project, until the audit has been completed and submitted to the Department of Commerce, CDBG program for review," wrote Kelly. "The other option available to the county for resolution of this matter, is the repayment of all grant funds disbursed."

Rose Mary Saunders has been the paid administrator of this project for the county. According to Pratt County personnel, Saunders has turned the problems over to the county to complete.

In other matters, commissioners:

n Were informed the storage building at Pratt County Veterans' Memorial Lake has been completed.

n Issued road crossing permits to Siroky Oil Management Inc. and to JK Farms.

n Discussed the Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ) program with Jan Scarbrough, Director of the Pratt Chamber of Commerce and Lynn Perez of the South Central Community Foundation (SCCF). SCCF is proposing a program where individuals and businesses can contribute to paying $1,500 a year, up to a total of $7,500, to reduce the educational debts of qualified individuals moving to the community.

n Discussed the hospital building project with Pratt Regional Medical Center personnel and Spencer Levin of Hutton Construction, Wichita, who will oversee the construction for PRMC. A joint meeting with both city and county officials is being proposed for March.

n Reviewed applications for Pratt County Environmental Director in executive session. No decisions were reported.