Fines sought for late reports

Cities, counties and other political subdivisions in Nebraska could be fined for filing late reports with the state under a bill considered Jan. 29 by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist45' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Rita Sanders'>Sen. Rita Sanders</a>
 Sen. Rita Sanders

Government entities that fail to file required reports with the state Auditor of Public Accounts could be fined $20 a day — up to $2,000 total per filing — under LB368, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Rita Sanders.

As introduced, the bill also would allow the office to conduct the audit at the subdivision’s expense. Sanders provided an amendment to remove that provision, saying the auditor already has that authority under current state law.

Sanders said 309 reports were filed late in the 2019 fiscal year and 19 subdivisions have yet to file for that year making them late by anywhere from 120 to 394 days.

“Chasing these reports down can be frustrating and expensive for the auditor’s office and prevents the public from seeing the results of the audit in a timely manner,” she said.

Russ Karpisek of the auditor’s office testified in support of the bill. On-time filing would increase transparency and save money, he said.

“There’s no teeth [in statute] to make people get their audits and budgets and things in on time,” Karpisek said. “There’s nothing we can really do right now.”

Karpisek added that the auditor’s office could waive the fine if a government entity had a valid reason for filing late.

No one spoke in opposition to LB368 and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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