Grand County commissioners respond to audit critiques
The Grand County Board of Commissioners have responded to the findings from an annual financial audit of the county for 2013.
The audit identified “material weaknesses” in the county’s financial statements, as well as “significant deficiencies” the county’s application for federal grand money.
Grand County auditor Rubin Brown stated in a Sept. 23 meeting that he intended to issue an unmodified opinion for county finances, giving the county the highest opinion possible.
The county has already addressed the audit’s first concern, which identified shortfalls in the county building department’s financial reporting. Specifically, the audit stated that the department did not perform reconciliations of the number of building permits and fees with recorded revenue to make sure that revenue was collected.
The audit identifies “lack of reconciliations performed and limited segregation of duties over cash receipts” as the cause for an embezzlement scandal that shook the county building department earlier this year.
Former employee Brigid Irish has been charged in connection with that case, which saw more than $500,000 in funds misappropriated from the department.
The audit findings also stated that the county should correlate building plans approved by the planning department to permits issued by the building department.
Daily deposits from the building department to the treasurer’s office were not made in a timely manner in 2013, as per county policy.
However, the county addressed these concerns earlier this year by combining the building, planning, GIS and economic development departments under the purview of the assistant county manager.
Currently, building and planning information is entered into a database to facilitate reconciliation and better internal controls, and the department is making deposits into the treasurer’s office regularly, according to the commissioners’ official response.
The audit found a material weakness in the county treasurer’s office regarding wire transfers. The county treasurer is currently allowed to prepare, authorize and record transfers with no supervisory approval, which the audit identified as a limitation on internal controls.
The audit recommended that the county manager or finance director be required to approve wire transfers.
In their response, the county commissioners expressed that further discussion was needed with the county treasurer to design and implement new internal controls.
Issues with emergency management grants
The audit also found two issues with the county’s applications for Emergency Management Performance Grants in 2013.
The Department of Homeland Security issues the grants through the Colorado Department of Public Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Each grant requires that the county submit financial status and performance reports. The county failed to retain documentation to support that it submitted the required reports, according to the audit.
“This shows that county controls over reporting may not be sufficient to prevent noncompliance with reporting requirements,” the audit states.
The commissioners responded that the county’s Office of Emergency Management would be required to maintain the proper documentation.
The audit’s final finding, again in relation to emergency management performance grants, found the county had failed to certify that a vendor was not suspended or debarred, a requirement for the use of some federal funds.
The audit states that, though the county includes a vendor certification clause in its contracts, one contract examined showed that the clause was missing, and Emergency Management personnel were unaware that the clause should have been included.
Commissioners responded that they would direct the office of emergency management to perform and document debarment searches for all covered transactions and train staff.
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