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County receives ‘clean’ audit with no material weaknesses

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

Washington County got an early Christmas gift with 2019’s audit report from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

There were six findings on the comptroller’s audit report, but no material weaknesses.

“I think it shows continuing improvement in our processes,” Washington County Director of Accounts and Budgets Mitch Meredith said. “The comptroller finished it a little early this year which is a good sign. Audit findings were all just procedural. They are all important and things that we’ve addressed and most of them are things we’ve already implemented corrections on. I was pleased with the audit.”

The director of schools’. office had three findings. The county mayor and director of accounts and budgets, the county mayor and the county clerks offices all had one finding. A corrective plan has been put in place for each finding and is listed in the financial report.

According to the audit, the findings for the director of schools office included that various school departments had deficiencies in the maintenance of payroll deduction records and accounts, the school federal projects fund had a cash overdraft and unclaimed funds were not reported and paid to the state.

The management’s response on the audit said the payroll deduction records and accounts were “not being adequately accounted on the expense report on a monthly basis, but was being captured at year-end.” The response also said the report is now recorded on a monthly basis.

Washington County Schools’ Finance Director Brad Hale said the overdraft of $29,958 was related to an accounting entry that would have alleviated the finding. Meanwhile, the school system’s process for unclaimed funds is catching up, he said.

“That’s just a manual process we’re working on to get those sent out,”Hale said. “There were no material weaknesses at all (on the audit), there were just a few different things the auditors want us to do. They just wanted (some findings) reconciled a little differently.”

The rest of the county’s findings include deficiencies found in the administration of payroll in the county mayor and director of accounts and budgets’s office, the Solid Waste Department did not deposit some funds within three days of collection in the county mayor’s office and software audit logs were not reviewed in the county clerk’s office.

According to the audit report, the payroll finding involved reviewing employee time sheets, which the management’s response said would be completed periodically by the payroll department. The management’s response also said a corrective plan is in action to resolve the county clerk’s office finding.

The solid waste finding was a result of “illness and other absenteeism” within the department according to the management response in the audit. Meredith said the county has already changed the procedure related to how the department deposits its funds.

“One of the audits had to do with getting the deposit in within three banking days,” Meredith said. “We’ve changed some of the procedures where those deposits actually go straight through the trustee rather than various departments. That way it’s in the bank.”

Meredith also said he felt the audit overall reflected how the county is doing fiscally.

“Accounting is in good shape. We retired $6.7 to $7.2 million worth of debt. We used a little bit of fund balance in the general fund and that in and of itself isn’t a concern, but we need to watch that as we go forward. Given our environment, we have a relatively flat growth. So we’ve gotta be able to make sure we can manage that.”

To view this year’s audit report, go to https://comptroller.tn.gov/content/dam/cot/la/advanced-search/2019/county/FY19WashingtonCAFR.pdf.