Polk gets favorable audit

Published 1:38 pm Friday, November 19, 2010

Polk County added another $731,543 to its savings last fiscal year to end with an unrestricted fund balance of $7,058,899 available for spending.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners Monday reviewed the audit report for fiscal year 2009-2010, which ended June 30. Dan Yelton of Gould Killian CPA Group, P.S., presented details of the audit Monday and the county officially accepted the report.

The fund balance is higher and has been higher for the past five years than other peer counties, Yelton told commissioners.

Yelton also said the countys tax collection rate has been higher than the countys peer counties throughout the state for a number of years. Polks tax collection rate was 96.3 percent last year, with peer groups averaging around 95 percent over the past few years. Peer counties are counties in the state similar in size, or with populations less than 25,000.

Polk County collected $13,700,074 in taxes for fiscal year 2009-2010 with a total of $14,224,791 billed and $524,717 uncollected as of June 30, 2010. Polks prior year tax collection rate was 96.9 percent, with $13,713,304 billed and $429,578&bsp; uncollected as of June 30, 2009, according to the audit.

The audit report this year included charts showing how Polk County compares to other counties of similar size. Polks fund balance is significantly higher this year at 35.4 percent of its general fund, compared to the peer groups average of between 20 and 24 percent.

Polk County had one dip in its fund balance in the year ending June 30, 2009, after the county used its fund balance to purchase Lake Adger for $1.6 million, but even then the county maintained a fund balance of approximately 25 percent.

Another chart included in the audit report showed Polks outstanding debt over the last four years. Polks trend has a steady drop, from about $25 million owed in 2006 to between 16 million and 17 million owed as of June 30, 2010. Polk decided on Monday to further decrease its debt by paying off an outstanding loan that funded the construction of the middle school, recreation complex and transfer station. (See article, pg. 8.)

The county ended last fiscal year with total expenditures of $20,352,199 from its general fund. The county ended $1,195,263 more revenues than expenditures.

On the negative side of the audit, Polk did receive two findings.

A federal award finding was given to the county for its Medicaid program. Yelton said two files in the auditors sample of the countys Medicaid program proved to be incorrect, resulting in two people not receiving benefits. The audit recommends additional staff training and possibly additional file reviews are needed to ensure required documentation is present in the file and is used to correctly compute the budget for eligibility determinations.

The county agreed with the finding; officials said, according to the audit, Additional staff training will occur to ensure that all staff members are aware of the required documentation and procedures.

Another finding is incurred on an annual basis, according to Yelton, and is based on the fact that&bsp; the auditors themselves prepare the annual financial statements, footnotes and other required disclosures.

The external auditors cannot be considered to be part of an entitys internal control, states the audit report. Therefore, the auditors participation in the preparation of certain sections of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) technically constitutes a weakness in [Polk County’s] system of internal control.

While the county does prepare monthly financial statements for internal purposes and is competent in tracking expenditures and fund balances, it is not logical at this time for the county to dedicate the resources required to perform all of the year-end financial reporting duties.

Yelton did recommend that the county appoint an audit committee made up of county employees as well as community members to help with financials and the annual audit. He said many other counties have an audit committee, which has proved to be successful.