Mar 3, 2015

Auditor says county’s practices have improved

Park County is getting better marks from its auditor than it did a year ago.

The number of concerns reported by auditors from CliftonLarsonAllen dropped from 11 last year to six this time around. The firm’s review covered the county’s most recent fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014.

CliftonLarsonAllen scrutinized the county’s financial statements and processes for accuracy, compliance with government accounting standards and susceptibility to fraud, among other things.

“Some very good improvements this year,” said Shawn Sonnkalb, a manager in CliftonLarsonAllen’s Broomfield, Colo., office, on Feb. 17. “I’d like to see a little bit more (improvement), but I think this year was a very good success.”

Auditor Shawn Sonnkalb of CliftonLarsonAllen lays out his findings.
Compared to the prior fiscal year, Park County came into compliance with requirements attached to some federal dollars and created new, improved processes for handling employee contracts and reviewing entries in the county’s general ledger.

The other six “findings” from the prior year were not fixed.

“Like my bosses like to say, ‘Think big, but improve incrementally,’” Sonnkalb told county officials. “You can’t do everything in one fell swoop — and we don’t expect you to, either.”

One of the repeated concerns is that the county does not adjust its statements from a cash basis to the accrual basis required by government accounting standards. The county has historically relied on its auditors to do the conversion, but that’s been a source of conflict with the past few auditing firms, because it effectively forces them to audit their own tabulations.

CliftonLarsonAllen officials suggested last year that they might not honor their three-year contract if the county didn’t start making efforts to take over the work. The county has started that process and Clerk Colleen Renner hopes to hire a staffer with a financial background to help.


“Like my bosses like to say, ‘Think big, but improve incrementally.’ You can’t do everything in one fell swoop — and we don’t expect you to, either,” Sonnkalb said.

The other findings are generally aimed at county processes that could have the potential for fraud and need more oversight or transparency.

For example, they include recommendations to prohibit any county worker from being able to alter the county’s books on their own, to keep better tabs on the county’s assets, to detail more financial transactions in the county’s general ledger and to more regularly check and reconcile cash balances.

The recommendations are generally intended to cut down on the chance of fraud and/or ensure continuity in the event an employee leaves.

Other suggestions include inventorying all the county’s assets and periodically reviewing pay rates once they’ve been entered into the system.

First Deputy Clerk Hans Odde said the clerk’s office just completed a full in-house audit of the county’s payroll.

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