By Nathan Baker
A state auditor said Thursday that the Carter County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office might have to spend months sorting out a balance of nearly $380,000 in unidentified funds that has been growing for two decades under the office’s control.
Mark Treece, supervisor of the East Tennessee division of the state Comptroller of the Treasury’s Department of Audit, told the Carter County Audit Committee that the money, $90,675 for Circuit Court and $289,116 for General Sessions, was collected over the years after being ordered paid by judges, but was not properly logged, leaving the office unsure of which amounts belong to their corresponding cases.
“To be honest with you, it’s going to be very difficult to identify that money to the particular person it goes to,” Treece said. “You have to go back and look at it on a case-by-case basis and identify what it is.”
The auditor said some of the money could be court costs or litigation taxes that rightfully belong to the county, but it also could be restitution that still might be owed to victims of crimes or litigants.
If the judgments were identified by each case and the rightful owner couldn’t be located within a year, state law would allow the money to be considered abandoned and require it be reported and paid to the Treasurer’s Office.