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Assessors blame software for failing audit

County assessor's offices in five Southwest Oklahoma counties were among the 35 in Oklahoma that failed their 2013 state performance audits by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. 
In addition to Comanche County, the assessor's office in Caddo, Greer, Harmon and Kiowa counties failed the audit.
Donna Giddens, Greer County tax assessor, said differences between the accounting software system that her county and other rural counties use and the standards set by the Tax Commission accounted for the county failing the 2013 audit.
"We completely wrote all our records on that system last year," she said. "But the Oklahoma Tax Commission picks up the records of the year before. Greer County will be in compliance next year when they use the 2013 records."
Greer, like many rural counties, uses a common software called Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal, or CAMA. This is a methodology that has been a state mandate for assessor offices for some 20 years.
Giddens said her office has been performing its tax valuations as directed by the Tax Commission for the past four years. However, she said the county still does the accounting by hand by inputting into the software program. She said the fact that her county's assessor's office, like offices in many rural counties, have only small staffs to work with. She expressed hope that the state will fund the software program and related training through Oklahoma State University, which will help her office staff as well as the staffs of other rural counties.
"The county assessors in Oklahoma work very hard to serve their taxpayers fairly, and we communicate with each other about issues," she said. "We want to be fair for everybody, but we're using old accounting systems while the bigger counties have their own programs that give them a leg up."

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