County receives positive audit report

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners received a positive report Tuesday, concerning the independent audit of the county’s finances during the 2010-11 fiscal year.

Certified public accountant Ben Lee of St. Simons Island, Ga., formerly of Bainbridge, said Tuesday that the county received an “unqualified” opinion on its audit. Unqualified means the auditor believes that the financial statements present a fair and accurate picture, without any reservations, exceptions or concerns.

Lee briefed both the finance committee at an 8 a.m. meeting Tuesday, and the full board at its regular meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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According to the audit’s report, the county’s actual revenues were $282,295 less than budgeted, but its expenditures were $317,843 less than budgeted. The audit also notes that the county, as of June 30, 2011, had $45.7 million in total assets.

The 100-page audit report meticulously details the county’s financial position, and Lee said it would not have been possible without the cooperation of the county’s commissioners and staff.

“Your financial committee does a better job of staying on budget and remaining knowledgeable about finances than just about any government I’ve previously audited,” Lee said.

Lee said that although the audit did not have any major findings, he did have several suggestions to improve the county’s efficiency and accountability. He recommended that the county update its cash management policies, which were previously written in 2005 and make reference to out-of-date computer software.

He also recommended that the county require some employees to sign a “compliance statement,” which states that they will not commit fraud or other crimes when dealing with the county’s finances.

“You recently adopted an anti-fraud policy in the county and I applaud you for that,” he said. “I also recommend that you develop some anti-fraud procedures, such as a code of ethics for the employees to sign, and these compliance statements.”

Commissioner Russell Smith noted that it is not always easy for the county to stay within budget, but commissioners take their role seriously.

“We don’t always make a lot of friends [at department budget meetings],” Smith said.