Lincoln County Treasurer officially removed from office

Commissioners will oversee a public hearing Monday, July 15th, at 10:00 am at the Lincoln County Courthouse. They will share the State Audit of the Treasurer's office, and hear witness testimony and from Lorie Koertner and her attorney before deciding the fate of the office. The hearing will be live-streamed on KNOP's app and webchannel: knopnews2.com. (SOURCE: Melanie Standiford/KNOP-TV).

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) The Lincoln County Commissioners officially removed the Lincoln County Treasurer, Lorie Koertner, after finding allegations in a state audit to be true on Monday.

The Lincoln County Commissioners reshared the State Audit of the Treasurer's office Monday morning and shortly it is allowing Lorie Koertner and her attorney to explain what happened as she ran the office in 2019.

After months of wondering why the Lincoln County Treasurer was removed from her elected position after only being in it for 4 short months, the state audit report and a long awaited hearing hoped to answer that question on Monday.

Mary Avery and Deann Haeffner of the state auditor's office presented a 44 page evidence report attestation of the Lincoln County Treasurer's Office for the months of January through May of this year.

These are the months that Lorie Koertner was in office.

The extensive report outlines five areas where the auditors found issues within the offices operations.

First is unreceipted collections. Between January 17th and May 10th, there were 347 checks totaling over 6.1 million dollars that had not been receipted or deposited by May 15th.

Second is inaccurate daily balance sheets and no bank reconciliations. The primary checking account balance hadn't been reconciled to the daily balance sheet since December 31st, 2018.

Also on the summary of comments was tax credit money not distributed correctly, fines and license money not distributed and Pledged collateral documentation, which means the county lacked documentation to support that its bank deposits were adequately secured.

The auditors answered questions from the commissioners and Lorie Koertner's attorney, JL Spread.

After discussing the audit report for two hours longer than scheduled and a lunch break, a hearing on those who rely on the Lincoln County Treasurer's Office for one reason or another started and still continues now into the evening.

Testifying at the hearing were Stuart Simpson, Executive Director of Finance Facilities and Operations for North Platte Public Schools, Dan Keyser, who is the Superintendent of Sutherland Public Schools and Shelli Franzen, the interim Lincoln County Treasurer.

Franzen said she too feels the stress of the office, working overtime to accomplish tasks like she says Koertner did also.

Simpson and Keyser both expressed their concern over the noticeable lack of funds they were receiving for their schools this spring during tax season.

"All we're trying to do is ensure that funds are accountable. We just know that statistically numbers were down and we wanted to address that to the commissioners," said Simpson.

There are still many witnesses to hear from as the hearing continues. It is unclear at this time when the hearing will be wrapped and what the fate of the Lincoln County Treasurer's office holds.

**UPDATED 6:05 PM 7/15/19**

The audit was ordered after school districts complained they were not getting tax dollars to pay their bills.

The Commissioners removed Koertner as Treasurer in May. Now that the state has had the opportunity to audit the office, the Commissioners will act in a judicial role during an executive session this morning.

But first the Commissioners, and the public, will hear witness testimony and from Koertner and her attorney. The Commissioners will ultimately decide whether or not she committed any acts of misconduct as Treasurer.

At 9:30 p.m. on Monday, it was ruled that one or more of the allegations in Koertner's audit was true. Koertner was officially removed from office.