Now, this million goes …
Bent on a smooth transition, Harrison County Auditor Karen Engleman and newly elected Auditor Pat Wolfe are tossing aside political affiliations and working together in the last days of Engleman’s term.
Engleman, a Republican, is completing her second four-year term, and was barred by law from seeking re-election to the auditor’s post, which routinely handles millions of dollars in accounts each year.
Wolfe, a Democrat, takes over the busy office in Harrison County Court House on Jan. 1.
“I told her I would help her anyway I can,” Engleman said. “The voters put her in office, and I think that’s what they expect me to do.”
When Engleman took office in 1995, the outgoing auditor, Democrat Cletus Zollman, helped her as well.
“I’m glad Karen is willing to be like that; I think it will start us off right,” Wolfe said. “I’ve been hoping for a smooth transition.”
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Wolfe attended a state auditors training conference earlier this month, but she said it’s nice to also know the inside details in advance.
“It sounds like the minute you take office, you have to be on your feet and running,” she said Monday night. “I hope people will give me a little time and have some patience.
“I’m going to feel like a fish out of water. I think in any new job, you feel that way until you get acclimated.”
The current auditor’s staff, eight deputies plus a part- time deputy, has indicated a willingness to remain on the job, Wolfe said, and Heather Metcalf of Corydon is already in training with Engleman to serve as Wolfe’s first deputy.
“The office will be up and running,” Wolfe said. “I expect smooth sailing on their part.
“I’m just not sure on mine,” she added with a chuckle. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The auditor’s office tracks and balances money from the state and a variety of grants that pass through the office each year, as well as property tax dollars.
Those total dollars have grown considerably since Engleman took office in 1995. That year, $18.3 million was receipted into the various accounts and $17.4 million paid out. Last year, $84 million was deposited and $75.8 million disbursed.
Keeping tabs on all that money – including some $24 million from Caesars Indiana each year in gaming taxes – is a big part of the auditor’s job, but not the only part.
“You have to audit everything, make sure claims are legitimate, the paperwork’s filled out properly, including time sheets,” Engleman said. “You have to make sure everyone is following the rules.”
The auditor’s office handles county payroll and keeps official minutes for the commissioners and county council, plus advertises bids, proposed payments of claims and additional appropriations. The office must record and maintain all official documents.
“Every contract, every ordinance, every resolution, you have to be able to put your finger on it,” Engleman said.
The auditor’s office sends out property tax bills each year and maintains property transfer records in books and on computer.
Each of those transactions must be completed according to state law, and that’s when some people get aggravated.
“People get mad at us and say we don’t need everything we need,” Engleman said. “There’s a misunderstanding of the rules, and people tell other people we’re just being fussy.
“We’re not. We’re just doing our job.”
With all that said, Engleman added this parting remark:
“It’s been an honor and a privilege serving as auditor.”