BROOKSVILLE — The staffer who headed up some of Hernando County's most notable government audits over the past several years, including the recent critical audit of Animal Services, is leaving Hernando for Hillsborough County.
Audit services director Peggy Caskey resigned last week and will begin work Sept. 10 as Hillsborough's director of audit services.
"I'm so excited,'' said Caskey, who has been with the Hernando County Clerk of Circuit Court's Office since November 1997. She was promoted to director of her department in 2004.
"It was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up,'' said Caskey, 49.
Over her years in Hernando, Caskey was tapped to examine controls, efficiencies and operations of many of the county's departments.
The most recent audit of Animal Services was ordered after a dog named Zeus was euthanized at the county's animal shelter just 12 minutes after he was turned in for adoption by a relative of his owner. While Caskey found that the shelter hadn't violated its rules in euthanizing the dog, she did find a host of operational problems at Animal Services, and the county staff is working on plans to fix those.
Over the years, her reports have included criticisms of the previous county administrator, David Hamilton, for failing to follow rules designed to provide purchasing safeguards for the Hernando Beach Channel dredge. She also painted a clear picture of the problems in Emergency Management in 2008 when then-director Tom Leto carried on a romantic relationship with his secretary, who was later charged with theft for claiming overtime she didn't work.
In addition, Caskey oversaw a major audit of the county Utilities Department and provided support for a fire study that recommended consolidation of the county's multiple fire departments.
"It's a good growth opportunity for her,'' said Hernando Clerk of Court Karen Nicolai. "I wish her well. I know she's going to do well down there.''
Nicolai, who is retiring at the end of the year, said Caskey's departure will give the incoming clerk, Don Barbee, an opportunity to reorganize the Audit Services Department as he sees fit.
Caskey, who has lived in Hernando County since 1972, said, "This is really a huge step. I have mixed feelings because I love Hernando County, but I've got to spread my wings. I think it's going to be good for me.''
Her annual salary in Hernando was $71,500; she will make $105,019 in Hillsborough.
Caskey estimated she likely completed more than 150 major and minor audits during her time in Hernando County and she praised Nicolai's operation.
"I couldn't have worked in a better place,'' she said.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.