SWEETWATER COUNTY – After several years of audits which were all over the place, Sweetwater County received another positive audit report recently.
For several years, Sweetwater County struggled through the audit process. After having several questionable audits, the Sweetwater County Commission hired an accounting manager. Sweetwater County Commission Chairman Wally Johnson has given a lot of credit to Accounting Manager Bonnie Phillips for the turn around with the audit and did so again this year.
“I still think it is one of the best things we have done,” Johnson said about hiring an accounting manager.
Amber Nuse of McGee, Hearne, and Paiz, LLC., presented the audit to the commissioners. Nuse said the audit went well and the county received a clean or unmodified opinion.
To start, Nuse gave a few financial highlights for the past year. She said expenses were $43 million which is up a little over the prior year which was $41.5 million. Nuse also reported property taxes were down over the past fiscal year but an increase is sales tax offset the property tax decrease. Revenues came it at approximately $50 million which is comprised mostly of property and sales tax.
Nuse then went into the actual findings of the audit explaining county entities such as the Sweetwater County Museum, Sweetwater Events Complex and others included in the county audit. Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County has a separate audit done because of the specialized field which it is in.
Chairman Wally Johnson asked Nuse about the MHSC audit and if they reviewed it. Nuse said they did look at the MHSC Audit. Johnson followed it with another question asking if they came across anything that raised concern. Nuse said the MHSC audit was very clean and there was nothing it in that “jumped out at them.”
Another positive reported in the audit was that the Sweetwater County Health and Human Service Building has been paid off.
In the audit process, the firm doing the audit looks at the overall audit, internal controls and federal grant money received by the county. Again Nuse said they did not find any major deficiencies in the internal controls and all the federal funding received was well accounted for and being used properly. Nuse explained to the commission they reviewed almost 85 percent of all federal funds the county received.
There were some minor issues brought up during the report. The first is one has been brought up in past audits several times. It is segregation of duties. Due to small numbers of employees in county entities such as the museum, several duties are handled by one person.
Commissioner Reid West said this has been brought up in past audit reports and asked if there was anything the county could do to fix this. Nuse said they could look at shifting responsibilities but because of the small number of employees it was something that they were probably going to have to live with.
Another minor issue found involved the County Board of Health and federal fund recordings. She said the requirement is for one person to prepare the report and another person to review the report. This was being done by one person. Nuse said they have already implemented a change and are following the requirements at this time.
Nuse said overall they did not find any significant deficiencies or any unusual transactions. She also reported there were no disagreements with county staff and they did not have any difficulties getting information they requested of the different departments.
Johnson again gave credit to all the department heads, county entities and elected officials who made this audit a positive one. He said this was one of the best audits he has seen in the county for many years. He also brought up the fact this is the first time the audit has been completed before the first of the year, noting it usually happens several months down the road.
“The county is going in the right direction,” Nuse said.