SAGUACHE — The county received its annual audit report from a new set of auditors Tuesday and learned from County Treasurer Connie Trujillo that per CRS 29-1-606(5), the State of Colorado will “...hold all funds in your possession pursuant to the taxing authority of such local government.”
The county has a history of being late filing its audits. County officials also have been cited for failing to maintain proper internal controls for nearly a decade. The audit notes these issues go back as far as 2009.
Chris Parker with Hinkle and Company of Greenwood Village, Colorado presented the audit. Regarding internal control issues, auditors wrote:
“The county does not have a complete system of internal controls to prevent and detect financial misstatements. The county does not have an individual whose responsibility is to oversee the overall accounting and financial reporting functions. As a result, the individual departments are not brought together and coordinated, with proper monthly reconciliations being performed and financial reporting prepared.
The auditors recommend the county “continue its search for personnel who can provide the county with a finance director duties and functions.”
The county’s response to this was, “The county recognizes the need for a finance director to coordinate all accounting and financial reporting functions and strengthen internal controls on a daily basis. While management believes it is difficult to find and retain a qualified finance director, the effort will continue.”
Former County Administrator Glen Simpson’s resume shows he had a strong financial background. Simpson, who resigned earlier this year, told the county in his letter of resignation: “It took me only a couple of weeks to identify vulnerabilities in both your accounting, timekeeping and payment procedures. Weaknesses in payroll, accounts payable and the general ledger are vulnerable to both fraud and embezzlement.”
The auditor also reported problems with Road and Bridge. The department went some $413,000 over its $3.1 million budget, “which may violate state statute. Next year, take a closer look.” Simpson told commissioners in his letter:
“The problem at Road and Bridge is much more than pay rates. Again, you’re aware of the problem, you know what needs to be done, but continue to ignore it.” The auditors also pointed out above that county departments don’t work well together, echoing Simpson:
“From the courthouse to the landfill, employees and county departments do not work well together. You know this, but still you ignore it.”
Later, under the Social Services section the report explains that, “As a result of this condition [lack of internal controls to prevent and detect financial misstatements], multiple errors in day-to-day accounting were noted.” Particularly cited in this regard was the Social Services fund, cited for many years in a row.
Auditors found that DSS failed to put accurate and consistent information into the eligibility and benefit calculation system, failing to detect and correct non-compliance with eligibility requirements.
Commissioners found multiple errors in the report, where Saguache County was listed as the town of Superior or as a university. They requested the errors be corrected, and Commissioner Jason Anderson asked if the figures in the audit, then, might also be incorrect. Parker assured the BoCC they were accurate and promised to correct the errors immediately.
He explained that his staff had been up till 9 p.m. the previous evening trying to finish the report “because we had a short deadline to get this out.”
Commissioners agreed to review the revised audit at a special meeting Nov. 12 and vote on whether to accept it.