WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – For the first time in 50 years, State of Tennessee auditors reviewed Washington County’s books instead of a private firm and that audit resulted in 25 findings and recommendations.
The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury will officially release the audit tomorrow, but News Channel 11 obtained a copy of the findings early. State auditors emailed their summary of audit findings to 50 elected officials yesterday.
Washington County’s 25 findings are almost twice as many as last year’s audit, but leaders said that’s mostly the result of two things.
“The fact that we were forced to change auditors after more than 50 years with the same firm and had to do it in the middle of a system conversion definitely strained our systems and personnel to the limit,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said.
For one, leaders said the state took over auditing responsibilities this year, which resulted in a fresh set of eyes, previously unfamiliar with the county’s accounting practices. Secondly, the audit occurred in the middle of Washington County’s massive overhaul of its accounting software.
“One of these changes would be difficult for any organization to digest but both at the same time was a significant strain on our small staff,” Finance and Administration Director Mitch Meredith said. “However, the financial team has laid out a corrective action plan in which I am confident that all will be corrected in the current year.”
State auditors flagged concerns in seven county offices in all, including eight findings linked to the offices of County Mayor and Director of Accounts and Budgets and seven findings in the Office of Director of Schools.
Among other things, auditors raised concerns about Washington County Schools failing to pay the IRS a tax deposit on time, which resulted in more than $800 in penalties and interest and for buying used cars without obtaining competitive bids, according to the summary of audit findings.
“…appropriate corrective actions have already been taken or action plans are currently in place to correct these findings,” Finance Director Brad Hale said. “Therefore, we do not expect any of these findings to reoccur going forward.”
Auditors also raised six concerns in Trustee Monty Treadway’s office, including the fact employees shared usernames and passwords, according to the report.
“We have taken these findings very serious from the beginning,” Treadway said. “We have worked on all recommendations from the auditors. All findings have been corrected according to the audit exit.”
While the county’s finance and administration director says he’s disappointed the county had findings, Meredith said the recommendations are not surprising considering the previously mentioned changes.
Meredith said it’s important to note, despite the 25 findings, auditors concluded the county’s financial statements were fairly presented and determined there are no material weaknesses in internal controls, which he says is good news for the county’s bond rating and should give taxpayers faith in how the county’s handling their tax dollars.
Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.