It was a costly pill for the Barton County commissioners to swallow Monday morning when they approved paying Adams, Brown, Beran and Ball $53,695 for the county’s 2014 audit.
“It’s the cost of doing business,” County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. Beyond being required by law, the public expects an audit be done to show their tax dollars are being handled appropriately.
But, making this action more difficult was the additional $12,395 fee figured into that total. The change order included additional work required due to evaluations of federal awards expenditures and the 2013 tax roll reconciliation for the Treasurer’s Office.
Of this additional expense, $4,110 was for the federal awards audit and $8,285 was a result of the problems in the Treasurer’s Office.
Since the total was so high, Boeckman said he and County Clerk Donna Zimmerman thought the commission should approve payment. The issue brought up the long-running conflict between the commission and County Treasurer Kevin Wondra.
It was Commissioner Jennifer Schartz who suggested the $8,285 be charged to the Treasurer’s Office Budget. “We have to hold him accountable,” she said.
The action was more symbolic since all the money would come out of the general fund, but it sends a message.
The audit of the federal awards, also known as the single audit, is done in addition to the full audit. This year, there some minor problems and confusion that required a return visit from ABBB auditors, County Financial Officer Jessica Wilson said.
“Now we are on the same page,” she said.
Commissioner Alicia Straub questioned the high cost of ABBB’s work. “My goal is not to put blame on Kevin, just make sure we get bids from all interested accounting firms.”
Boeckman said the county seeks requests for proposals every three years. Although the request is widely advertised, ABBB is only local firm that has submitted bid.
The firm has done good job, Boeckman said. Its auditors have been flexible and worked well with the county.
But Straub said the cost of audit more than treasurer’s salary,
Boeckman said the audit covers more than one office and looks at all departments. “It does help us to be better.”
ABBB finds mostly minor issues, all are taken care quickly, often before the audit is presented to the commission, Boeckman said.
“They find things that are not significant for the most part,” he said. “There is a benefit to the audit.”
As for the cost, it is comparable to what other governing bodies of a similar size pay, Boeckman said.
“This does involved the whole county,” Straub said. “It is all of our tax dollars being used for this.
“This is how much it costs to do an audit of the county operations, this is how much it costs to pay a treasurer,” she said. “You get what you pay for.”
Again, she said it may not have all be the Treasurer’s Office’s fault. But, the office should be held accountable.