Auditing firm finds no major problems with county's books

Dec 27, 2013 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

An independent audit of Fremont County's books from last fiscal year found no major problems. Accounting firm Decoria, Maichel & Teague returned an "unqualified opinion" that the county's financial statements were accurate.

"It's what you want headed into this process, and it's what you received," accountant Micheal Decoria told the Fremont County Commission on Dec. 10.

As part of its audit, Decoria, Maichel & Teague tested how the county spent federal grant dollars and found no problems.

"Everything went very well there," Decoria said. "I would compliment the individuals who work with those programs."

The firm did find one issue with internal controls over finance reporting. The auditors said they thought the problem was a "significant deficiency," but not the highest level of problem, which is called a "material weakness."

"We identified a $590,000 receivable that had not been accrued associated with a new fund," Decoria said.

The receivable was $590,000 the state had collected from April through June on behalf of Fremont County for the new optional 1 percent sales tax. Wyoming had not turned over the money, however, by the end of the fiscal year June 30.

The money owed should have been counted as an asset.

Deputy county attorney Jim Massman said the oversight only affected the financial report but not how the funds were allocated or counted. All of the optional 1 percent sales tax money went into the appropriate place, a new special revenue fund, which is set aside for infrastructure projects.

"It was really just an oversight in the preparation of the financial report," Massman said. "The money did go into the right fund."

Fremont County does not know how much tax money it is owed at the end of the fiscal year until it receives the funds one or two months later. At that point, the staff usually goes back to the books and enters the amount the county received as an asset.

In this case, the bookkeepers did not do that before auditors found the error in August.

Massman also thinks county staff would have caught the mistake before they finished the financial report in December.

"I think we would have caught it, but we'll definitely catch it earlier next time," he said.

The treasurer's office has adjusted its procedure to guard against such mistakes in the future, Massman said.

Decoria did not think the problem was serious.

"Missing one item did not cause us to think you had a material weakness in your internal controls," Decoria said. "The cause is, the county did not perform all of the procedures to identify all of the receipts after year end. Management went through and refined the written procedures related to receivables."

The accounting firm also found the county miscalculated the depreciation of two roads and bridges projects by $248,000. Construction on those items finished in October 2012, but Fremont County did not start depreciating the assets during last fiscal year, which ended in June. Auditors calculated that deprecation at $248,000.

Auditors also found two instances where the county spent more money than was budgeted, in a Baldwin Creek Road project and in the county's family planning department.

On the positive side, auditors concluded Fremont County had resolved all of the problems the firm found the previous year.

In one case in 2012, Decoria, Maichel & Teague determined some people on the Fremont County Fair Board were signing checks for the board but were not authorized to do so on the checking accounts. This year, auditors found the issue had been fixed.

To resolve another issue, Fremont County's museums formalized a policy saying they only use money from selling items in their collections to acquire more artifacts. The change brings the museums' practice of not capitalizing their artworks and historic artifacts as assets of the county in line with accounting standards.

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