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State auditors find minor problems with county's books

YAKIMA - Two new findings and a repeat finding are part of a state audit report issued last week about Yakima County's books for 2010.

Craig Warner is the county's budget director, and he said one of the findings involved a miscommunication between the Sheriff's office and federal grant officials.

In 2010 the Sheriff's office received $690,434 under 10 different grants in support of criminal justice efforts throughout Yakima County.

Warner said the Sheriff's office had the understanding that $23,601 could be applied to the grant for administrative work.

"What we did is we charged clerical support that we shouldn't have," he said. "We will have to notify the grant (agency) and let them know what happened."

Warner said another finding issued against the county involved a correction involving time sheets.

"The state auditors came in late last year and told us about an issue in the fourth quarter of 2010, but in the process of making that correction they found two time sheets that didn't have the proper certification."

Warner added, "We corrected that problem in 2011."

The furthest reaching finding reported last week was an issue, financial reporting, that auditors have dinged the county for each of the past three years.

In this the fourth consecutive year for a finding on financial reporting, auditors still frown on how the county's financial statements are presented.

"The county's financial statement process is complex. Its year-end financial statements are prepared by multiple people in various departments, each of whom prepares a different section of the statements," auditors noted. "The county increases its risk of errors or material misstatements on its financial statements with multiple people and departments involved in the process."

Yakima County Auditor Corky Mattingly said, unlike cities, the county's budget and financial statements have to reflect each department individually because some are led by elected officials.

Mattingly said changing federal guidelines also make it a challenge for financial reporting.

"We're staying on top of it and improving each year," she said. "We learn a little bit every year."

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