As of Thursday, September 26, 2013
YAKIMA – Internal controls were the focal point of two audit findings issued against Yakima County by state auditors this week.
The findings were the result of an annual audit of the county’s books for the year 2012.
One of the findings involved a three-year federal stimulus grant the Sheriff’s office received for three deputies. The issue wasn’t how the money was spent, but the fact the Sheriff’s office did not comply with quarterly reports mandated by the stimulus grant.
“The Sheriff’s office documented all the costs, but what it boiled down to is they didn’t do the on-line quarterly report,” says Craig Warner, the county’s financial services director.
In response to the finding, Warner says in the future someone from the county’s financial services office will double check to make sure quarterly reports are filed.
The other finding involved how the county auditor presented financial statements.
Again, there were no problems with how the county spent its money, but rather state officials noted two areas of internal control deficiencies in the county auditor’s office.
One issue was how the county accounted for its uncollectible funds in the district court probation account receivables.
Warner says the county auditor’s office estimated that 40 percent of the probation receivables were uncollectable, while state officials felt the figure should be 90 percent.
He noted the county and state auditor offices reached a compromise and that 80 percent of the $13 million outstanding in probation accounts receivables will be considered uncollectible.
Warner says the county will be able to better address that issue going forward because of new software in use for the probation account receivables.
“The old system probation used was so poor it didn’t provide us any information,” says Warner. As a result, the county moved to have probation services use the same accounts receivable software that the rest of the county uses. “Now we’ll have a truer idea of what the uncollectibles should be,” he said.
The other item state officials had concerns about was how financial statements were presented.
“Our audit found the county did not always calculate adjustments correctly or accurately prepare the reconciliation between fund statements and the goverment-wide statements,” the state auditor’s finding stated.
While there was no question that funds were not misappropriated or incorrectly handled, at issue was lack of review on how financial adjustments were reported.
Combined with the concern about the county’s probation receivables, state auditors noted, “…when taken together represent a significant deficiency.”
State officials also noted they issued similar findings during previous financial statement audits.
In response, Warner says the county is working on a plan to provide additional reviews and internal control of the financial statements.
It’s not an easy fix, he says, because a high level of expertise will be needed to make sure the statements comply with state audit standards.
He says one possibility is that Yakima County may look to contract the review services with an outside contractor.
- John Fannin can be reached at email@example.com or at 837-4500.