REPORT NO. 2000-05

DATED: JUNE 1, 2000

The Board of County Commissioners


The Clerk of the Circuit Court

Pinellas County, Florida

The Internal Audit Division has completed an audit of Scalehouse Operations for the Solid Waste Operations, Utilities Department.


The purpose of this audit was to: 1) evaluate compliance with applicable laws and local regulations; 2) determine the completeness and effectiveness of internal controls over scalehouse operations; 3) evaluate the software used for the scalehouse to include application security, input controls, and accuracy of output; and 4) review access rights and security settings for the Local Area Network (LAN).


The scope of the audit included testing compliance to applicable laws and/or local regulations. We interviewed personnel, evaluated internal controls, and reviewed documentation that supported selected items such as cash receipts, escrow accounts, and accounts receivable. We reviewed system input and verified the accuracy of output generated by scalehouse software. Settings for the LAN were reviewed to determine compliance with MIS and Best Practice standards. The audit period was from July 1, 1999, through December 31, 1999. We performed other audit procedures we considered necessary in the circumstances.


Solid Waste is a self-funded enterprise fund within Pinellas County Government that derives its revenue from fees paid by refuse haulers, the sale of electricity, and the sale of recovered metals. The objective of the facility is to provide the citizens of Pinellas County with a versatile and effective system of refuse disposal. The Solid Waste Management Program includes incineration, resource recovery, landfilling, recycling, and artificial reef construction.

The Scalehouse is operated by the Solid Waste Customer Service Department. It consists of four scales, three inbound and one outbound, that are designed to monitor and control access to the plant, landfill and mini-refuse stations. A computerized weighing system records the weight, type of waste, waste destination, and billing information. The disposal, or tipping, fee is $37.50 a ton. When the vehicles enter the facility they drive onto the scale to tabulate the weight of the vehicle before unloading. They are weighed again before exiting if their empty weight is not already recorded in the data management system. Once weighed, the vehicles may be routed to the facility's "tipping floor", where loads are emptied. Depending on the type of refuse, the vehicle may be routed to the landfill or recycling area. The facility also provides private citizens with a separate all-weather covered and paved area to unload their refuse for a small fee.


The results of our review are shown below. They begin with an overall evaluation followed by detailed discussions of the findings and recommendations with management's response.


The internal controls in place for scalehouse operations are effective. The Scale Management System (SMS) software program that was installed in December, 1998, is currently meeting the users' needs. Access rights and security settings for the Local Area Network (LAN) were found to be in compliance with MIS and Best Practice standards. Applicable laws are being complied with; however, there is one issue requiring management's attention that relates to a fee no longer being assessed which is still a requirement of the Pinellas County Code. The following items need management's attention.


FINDING 1 - Two SMS application reports contained conflicting information.

The SMS "Customer Status of Deposit Account" (CSDA) report did not reflect the correct individual escrow information and the data differed from the "Customer Deposit" (CD) report. The following issues were noted:

FINDING 2 - Solid Waste customer escrow information was not current and the escrow record keeping process did not utilize the automated application capabilities.

The customer escrow information maintained on the Scale Management System (SMS) application should reflect the current status of the cash deposit or the instrument used to guarantee the outstanding monthly charges. In addition, management should utilize the automated tools available to reduce the use of less effective manual processes. Our review of the record keeping process for the customer's escrow accounts noted the following items requiring management attention:

FINDING 3 - SMS application output is not being utilized in the most cost-effective manner.

The gathering and processing of data from the SMS database should utilize the current application attributes to take advantage of available technology to produce the most efficient and accurate output. Our review of the utilization of the SMS output to produce the required information for reporting billing terms on the Plant and Landfill contracts found the following items:

FINDING 4 - Section 106-98, County Code is in conflict with federal law.

County Code Section 106-98, Fees, rates and charges, states, ". . .a surcharge shall be collected for all solid waste generated outside the territorial boundaries of the county that is received and disposed of by the system." The provisions of this ordinance became invalid in May, 1994, when the United States Supreme Court struck down "flow control" ordinances.

The collection of the $40 out-of-county surcharge was discontinued by management at Solid Waste on May 27, 1994. The last audit, performed in 1996, recommended that management consult with the County Attorney's office to determine the procedure required for repeal of the out-of-county surcharge. Management's response was that, "Customer Service will coordinate with Finance, Solid Waste Operations and the County Attorney's office to amend the County Code in this matter." However, a memo dated November 16, 1999, from the County Attorney's office stated, ". . . leave ordinance as is so that in the event "flow control" should become valid again, we would already have it on the books."

Audit supervised by:

Audit performed by:


Karleen F. De Blaker
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Ex Officio County Auditor

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