State auditors nick Sunnyside for filing federal report late

The good news is that the city of Sunnyside is getting its federal financial report in earlier. The bad news is that it is still later than state auditors would like.

That's according to the results released on April 27 of an audit of the city's finances for 2005. The audit covered areas of Sunnyside's books ranging from how the city receipts cash payments to utility billings.

In general, auditors gave the city finances a clean bill of health, noting "internal controls were adequate to safeguard public assets".

In a follow-up to the 2004 audit that produced a negative finding, though, auditors said that the city has only partially corrected a problem of filing a federal report in a timely basis.

During a discussion on the 2004 audit, held in April 2006, auditors stated the city did not meet a federal report filing requirement that kicks in when a municipality receives more than $500,000 in federal assistance.

The federal report is due May 30 of the following year. In Sunnyside's case, for example, the city was to turn in the 2004 report to auditors by May 30, 2005, but did not actually get it in until Nov. 14 of that year, 168 days late.

City Manager Bob Stockwell told auditors at the time that there were problems with the way the city kept books before he arrived in May 2004, pointing out that the city had been keeping two sets of books.

In the recently completed 2005 audit, state officials credited the city with doing a better job at filing the federally mandated report in a more timely fashion. But state auditors noted the city still missed the May 30, 2006 deadline for the 2005 report.

Stockwell confirmed that the city missed the May 30 deadline, noting the report was filed "well into the summer".

At the same time, he expressed satisfaction with a much more positive audit outcome for 2005 than was received in 2004.

"In 2004 we had a finding, and that's the worst thing that can happen. In 2005 we had no findings," Stockwell said. Of the federal filing deadline, he added, "We're getting better, but we have improvements to make."


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