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Accountability Audit Report Skamania County

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17 pages
Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report Skamania County Report Date March 18, 2010 Report No. 1003311 Issue Date March 29, 2010 Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag March 29, 2010 Board of Commissioners Skamania County Stevenson, Washington Report on Accountability We appreciate the opportunity to work in cooperation with your County to promote accountability, integrity and openness in government. The State Auditor’s Office takes seriously our role to advocate for government accountability and transparency and to promote positive change. Please find attached our report on Skamania County’s accountability and compliance with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures. Thank you for working with us to ensure the efficient and effective use of public resources. Sincerely, BRIAN SONNTAG, CGFM STATE AUDITOR Insurance Building, P.O. Box 40021  Olympia, Washington 98504-0021  (360) 902-0370  TDD Relay (800) 833-6388 FAX (360) 753-0646  http://www.sao.wa.gov Table of Contents Skamania County March 18, 2010 Audit Summary .......................................................................................................................... 1 Related Reports ......................... 2 Description of the County ....................................................................... ...
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Washington State Auditor’s Office

Accountability Audit Report






Skamania County



Report Date
March 18, 2010


Report No. 1003311
























Issue Date
March 29, 2010




Washington State Auditor
Brian Sonntag



March 29, 2010


Board of Commissioners
Skamania County
Stevenson, Washington


Report on Accountability

We appreciate the opportunity to work in cooperation with your County to promote
accountability, integrity and openness in government. The State Auditor’s Office takes seriously
our role to advocate for government accountability and transparency and to promote positive
change.

Please find attached our report on Skamania County’s accountability and compliance with state
laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures. Thank you for working with us to
ensure the efficient and effective use of public resources.

Sincerely,

BRIAN SONNTAG, CGFM
STATE AUDITOR

Insurance Building, P.O. Box 40021  Olympia, Washington 98504-0021  (360) 902-0370  TDD Relay (800) 833-6388
FAX (360) 753-0646  http://www.sao.wa.gov
Table of Contents

Skamania County
March 18, 2010


Audit Summary .......................................................................................................................... 1
Related Reports ......................... 2
Description of the County ........................................................................................................... 3
Schedule of Audit Findings and Responses ............... 5

Audit Summary

Skamania County
March 18, 2010


ABOUT THE AUDIT

This report contains the results of our independent accountability audit of Skamania
County for the period from January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2009.

We evaluated internal controls and performed audit procedures on the activities of the
County. We also determined whether the County complied with state laws and
regulations and its own policies and procedures.

In keeping with general auditing practices, we do not examine every transaction, activity
or area. Instead, the areas examined were those representing the highest risk of
noncompliance, misappropriation or misuse. The following areas were examined during
this audit period:

Disbursements/expenditures Benefits
Contracts/agreements Restricted funds
Payroll Open public meetings


RESULTS

In many areas, the County complied with state laws and regulations and its own policies
and procedures.

However, we identified a condition significant enough to report as a finding:

The former Skamania County Auditor violated state law and County policy by
engaging in conduct that resulted in questionable uses of public funds.


Washington State Auditor’s Office
1 Related Reports

Skamania County
March 18, 2010


FINANCIAL

Our opinion on the County’s financial statements and compliance with federal grant
program requirements is provided in a separate report, which includes the County’s
financial statements.


FEDERAL GRANT PROGRAMS

We evaluated internal controls and tested compliance with the federal program
requirements, as applicable, for the County’s major federal programs, which are listed in
the Federal Summary section of the financial statement and single audit report.



Washington State Auditor’s Office
2 Description of the County

Skamania County
March 18, 2010


ABOUT THE COUNTY

Skamania County serves approximately 10,300 citizens. It is governed by an elected,
three-member Board of Commissioners. For fiscal year 2009, the County operated on a
budget of over $50 million. Its 300 employees provide an array of services including
general government, economic development, solid waste disposal, cultural and
recreational services, senior services, building and planning, law enforcement,
community health and transportation.


ELECTED OFFICIALS

These officials served during the audit period:

Board of Commissioners:
Paul Pearce District 1
Jim Richardson District 2
Jamie Tolfree District 3
Gabe Spencer Assessor
Sharon Vance County Clerk
Peter Banks Prosecuting Attorney
Cherie Flood Treasurer
Dave Brown Sheriff
Ronald H. Reynier District Court Judge
E. Thompson Reynolds Superior Court Judge
Auditor J. Michael Garvison

Note: J. Michael Garvison resigned and was replaced by Tim Todd in 2009.


APPOINTED OFFICIALS

County Engineer Tim Homann


COUNTY CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: Skamania County
240 NW Vancouver Ave
P.O .Box 790
Stevenson, WA 98648

Web site: www.skamaniacounty.org
Washington State Auditor’s Office
3 AUDIT HISTORY

We audit the County every two years for accountability purposes. In the past five
accountability audits we have reported one finding. The 2000 audit contained an internal
control finding involving cash receipting. This finding has been resolved.

Washington State Auditor’s Office
4 Schedule of Audit Findings and Responses

Skamania County
March 18, 2010


1. The former Skamania County Auditor violated state law and County policy
by engaging in conduct that resulted in questionable uses of public funds.

Background

County auditors are responsible for examining all county expenses to ensure they are for
a valid purpose, benefit the county, are allowable by county policy and state law and are
supported by documentation. In order to provide oversight of expenses incurred by the
county auditor, all claims of the county auditor are to be audited and allowed by the
County Board of Commissioners.

In 2008 and 2009, the Skamania County Auditor’s Office processed its own payments
totalling $743,441 and $684,032, respectively.

During 2009, citizens contacted our Office with concerns regarding the expenses and
actions of the Skamania County Auditor. In addition, the County Board of
Commissioners issued a letter to us dated October 20, 2009, requesting an audit of the
County Auditor expenses. Shortly after we received the concerns and letter, the County
Auditor resigned on November 8, 2009, to take a position in another state.

We reviewed these concerns during our regular audit of the County. Our review focused
on the former County Auditor’s travel expenses, equipment purchases and other uses of
County funds. We found the concerns regarding former County Auditor expenses to be
valid and consistent with our recommendations from the previous accountability audit.

We reviewed payments from January 2005 through November 2009. We were unable to
review this individual’s expenses for 2004 because records had been destroyed, in
violation of a state law requiring payment vouchers to be retained for six years.

The former County Auditor’s expenses were paid directly with County warrants, County
credit cards and through travel voucher reimbursements. The majority of expenses were
incurred through travel voucher reimbursements totaling $116,406.52.

Description of Condition

The former County Auditor made questionable expenditures of public funds that violated
state law and County policy. In addition, the former County Auditor circumvented state
law when he approved his own expenditures. The County is unable to demonstrate, and
other County officials question, whether these expenditures provided a benefit to the
County.

Washington State Auditor’s Office
5 The following table summarizes the issues found:

Questionable
Description Expenses
Travel
Out of state travel $ 20,816.86
Car allowances $ 13,950.00
Gorge area mileage $ 3,742.73
Excessive Mileage $ 1,507.81
Jeep expenses $ 13,910.25
Other
Social events $ 1,313.18
Master's Degree $ 15,829.34
Equipment purchases $ 16,310.63
Total $ 87,380.80


Out-Of-State Travel

We found the former County Auditor took 23 trips out of state at a cost of about $38,850
from June 2005 through September 2009. The former County Auditor traveled to
Washington D.C., Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts
and Canada. The former County Auditor appeared to have traveled at his sole
discretion. We did not find documentation to show these trips were approved in advance
by any County official. We were unable to determine the benefit to Skamania County for
13 of those trips totaling $20,816.86.

Car Allowance

The former County Auditor received a $450 monthly car allowance from May 2007
through October 2009, except in October 2007. He inappropriately received two $450
allowances in each of May 2007 and May 2008. County policy provides this allowance
for officials who are not assigned a County vehicle. Although the former County Auditor
was not officially assigned a County vehicle, he had a County-owned vehicle to use at
his discretion. County Auditor’s Office employees stated this vehicle was used only a
few times by someone other than the former County Auditor, who sometimes kept it at
his personal residence. When the vehicle was returned to the County just prior to the
former County Auditor’s resignation, its odometer reading showed it had been driven
37,440 miles since being purchased by the County Auditor’s Office for $3,288 in October
2006.

Columbia River Gorge-Area Mileage

County policy prohibits officials who receive a car allowance from claiming mileage
within a defined area around the Columbia River Gorge. We estimate the former County
Auditor claimed mileage of 7,164 within this restricted area, resulting in overpayments of
approximately $3,742.73.


Washington State Auditor’s Office
6 Excessive Mileage

We recalculated the miles claimed on the former County Auditor’s travel vouchers and
found he over claimed miles on 27 of his travel vouchers from May 2007 through
October 2009. Our calculations estimate the excess miles totaled 2,898, resulting in
overpayments of approximately $1,507.81.

Vehicle Expenses

Over 32 months, the former County Auditor spent $13,910.25 in County funds on parts
and repairs for the aforementioned vehicle. These included some extraordinary
expenses such as a 4-inch lift kit, transmission rebuild, manifolds, radiator, shocks and
weather stripping. The work was primarily performed by a mechanic shop in Vancouver,
Washington, 39 miles from the Skamania County Courthouse. We found this investment
of County resources in a vehicle that had 137,000 miles on it upon purchase to be a
questionable use of public funds, particularly in light of the former County Auditor also
receiving a car allowance and mileage reimbursements.

Social Events

The former County Auditor claimed meal and mileage expenses of $1,313.18 for
attending 25 meetings not directly related to County business. The meetings were
predominantly “Young Professionals of Vancouver” networking meetings. County policy
explicitly prohibits expense reimbursements for personal social events.

Master’s Degree

The County paid at least $15,829.34 for tuition, textbooks and travel for the former
County Auditor to receive a master’s degree in business administration. It appears the
former County Auditor acted at his sole discretion to acquire a master’s degree at the
public’s expense. We found no one approved using County money to pay these
expenses. County policy requires all educational courses and training to be for a County-
related purpose.

Equipment Purchases

The County Auditor’s Office purchased at least $16,310.63 in equipment from December
2006 through June 2009. More than $8,600 of the purchases was reimbursed to the
former County Auditor through travel vouchers. The remaining purchases were made
with a Skamania County credit card. Purchases included four laptop computers, two
printers, three cell phones, two hand’s free devices, a global positioning system, an LCD
television, a camcorder and several electronic equipment accessories.

The Deputy Auditor stated the former County Auditor paid $2,834.46 to the County near
the time of his resignation for equipment he decided to retain. The Board of
Commissioners had not approved this payment in exchange for County equipment. We
found no documentation for this arrangement or a list of the items he retained. Most of
the equipment purchased by the former County Auditor could not be located during our
investigation, including three laptops, two cell phones, the hand’s free devices, a digital
voice recorder and other accessories. This equipment had not been surplused and the
Washington State Auditor’s Office
7

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