Polk debates possible $60k plus audit contract

Published 10:01 pm Monday, March 28, 2016


By Leah Justice


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Polk County Commissioners are trying to decide which auditor to hire for the current year budget with the lowest bid being $50,000 and the next being $59,000 with another possible up to $5,300 for a new state requirement.

Commissioners met March 21 and discussed the two bids opened at length.

Polk has contracted with Dixon Hughes Goodman the past four years with their bid coming in at a $59,000 base. The other bid was from Gould Killian, which was $50,000.

County manager Marche Pittman said the county is required to have an audit every year and it is a significant expense.

County finance director Sandra Hughes told commissioners both companies are very good to work with and she realizes there is a big difference in the cost.

Hughes said the biggest difference is the time on site, saying Dixon Hughes Goodman really dig in with more time in Polk County. Polk contracted with Gould Killian the three years prior to contracting with Dixon Hughes Goodman the last four years.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said as he looks at the two firms’ figures it really did bring a question about the onsite time.

Dixon Hughes Goodman said they will be onsite 110 hours and another 248 hours at year-end while Gould Killian said they would be onsite 80 hours then another 144 hours at year-end. Dixon Hughes Goodman’s office hours were bid at 172 compared to Gould Killian’s 240 office hours.

Gasperson said there’s two area in county government he doesn’t think there should ever be a comprise and that is the election department because you don’t ever want a question about the elections nor an audit report. Gasperson asked the board to wait one more meeting to decide and have the county manager call Dixon Hughes Goodman to see if they would consider also including the state auditor’s compliance report as Gould Killian has agreed to include in their base bid.

Commissioner vice chair Keith Holbert, who has led the last two meetings following the sudden death of chair Tom Pack, said the difference in base bids alone is $9,000.

Hughes explained that the new state requirement is for the department of social services (DSS) and while Gould Killian said they look at it anyway in auditing the DSS, Dixon Hughes Goodman said it becomes a mini audit that they can’t do for free.

Commissioner Michael Gage said he doesn’t think the county should have the same auditors five years in a row.

Commissioner Shane Bradley asked the county manager if he had a preference.

Pittman said there’s nothing wrong with either firm but just looking at the price Gould Killian is the obvious lower price.

Bradley said looking at it he kind of feels like sometimes you get what you pay for.

“I want somebody whose going to dig in there deep,” said Bradley.

Gage said again he doesn’t think it’s good for any firm to get comfortable with the county but he is ok waiting until the county’s next meeting to decide.

Dixon Hughes Goodman’s audit for the 2015 budget year was $58,900 total so next year’s total would be $59,000 plus whatever the new state requirement would cost.

Hughes said in looking for auditors the county looks for firms nearby. The county sent requests to five auditors, with one declining to bid, one not answering and another the county didn’t open the price because they weren’t experienced enough for the county. Hughes told commissioners the better an auditor knows the county the closer they can look into it because they can dig deeper into different areas every year and they know where they’d looked.

The county’s next meeting is Monday, April 4, where the board is scheduled to approve newly nominated commissioner Ted Owens to fill the unexpired term of Pack. The Polk County Republican Party Executive Committee voted last week to nominate Owens, which will be official once the board of commissioners accepts the nomination. Commissioners will also have to vote on a new chair of the board once the board has five members.