Grand County tables accounting firm’s oversight proposal
September 2, 2014
The Grand County Board of Commissioners heard a preliminary pricing proposal from accounting firm Alvarez & Marsal for implementing new policies and training in the county, though the board tabled the proposal until its next meeting.
The proposal, presented Tuesday, was based on recommendations from Alvarez & Marsal's forensic accounting investigation of the county.
The investigation, following an embezzlement scandal in the county building department, resulted in a number of recommendations to improve internal controls and policies within the county.
But the proposal's cost of nearly $650,000 had both commissioners and officials looking for alternatives in their Sept. 2 meeting.
"We've got a budget in mind, but this was away above it," said James Newberry, county commissioner.
The conversation centered on new accounting software that the county has moved to purchase for its departments, and which Alvarez & Marsal hopes to implement. Costs for Alvarez & Marsal's help in training and customizing the new software make up the bulk of the proposal.
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Officials believe the new software will bolster internal controls by helping department heads monitor revenues and track cash.
Representatives from Alvarez & Marsal, speaking via conference call, said their proposal was drawn up under the assumption that the county and the software's maker, Tyler Technologies, would be offering minimal resources and support for the software's implementation.
However, it was unclear just what kind of training materials and support Tyler Technologies could offer.
County Information Systems Director Martin Woros, who is working to acquire the software for the county, was on vacation.
County weighs quality of support
County Finance Director Scott Berger said he was unfamiliar with what additional training materials and resources Woros was looking to purchase, though he had seen a webinar from Tyler Technologies and called the online training "excellent." The subscription for Tyler Technologies' training platform is $1,500 per year, Berger said, but he was unsure how it could be implemented for individual county employees.
Tim Meighan, with Alvarez & Marsal, said he had "mixed experience" with Tyler Technologies support.
Nancy Zielke, also with Alvarez & Marsal, recommended that the county "try to customize the manuals and training that relate to what the county's needs are."
But some officials were reluctant to accept such a large scope of oversight from Alvarez & Marsal.
County Treasurer Christina Whitmer, whose department recently implemented new software from Tyler Technologies, said the department didn't need the kind of support that Alvarez & Marsal proposed.
"I would really caution you, because it really isn't as big as you're being led to believe," Whitmer said.
Commissioners decided the revisit the proposal with Alvarez & Marsal on Thursday, Sept. 4, after Woros returns.
"I expect this to be chewed down to a lot less," Newberry said.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.