The Liberty County Commissioners received a “clean” annual audit report from their CPA firm at their Jan. 16 meeting and awarded a contract for the new Islands Fire Station as part of their countywide fire and emergency service plan.
County officials “value engineered” or trimmed optional costs from an initial low bid of $1,469,000 from Hubbard and Hudson down to $1,358,305. With $2 million allocated from Special Local Option Sales Tax money more funds will be required as SPLOST and other revenue come in. The commissioners authorized a loan not to exceed $600,000 to cover the project.
County Administrator Joey Brown said the construction could be completed by January 2021. County Commissioner Marion Stevens whose district 1 includes most of eastern Liberty County said the public safety development had “been a long time coming.” Miller Park is a long time coming too, he said. Officials plan to locate a new fire station and fire service headquarters at the centrally located park on U.S. Highway 84.
County chief finance officer Kim McGlothlin introduced the CPA report, saying, “We met the state deadline . . . this time.” Mergers and other changes among CPA firms made Liberty County’s required submission late for the 2018 fiscal year. State law requires annual audit reports to be turned in no later than 180 days after the close of the fiscal year.
Trey Scott of the CPA firm of Maulden & Jenkins told the commissioners that the “unmodified” opinion of the auditors was the best rating possible. Auditors reported only three findings.
County departments are required to remain in the spending limits in the annual budget or ask the commission to amend the budget. Auditors said several departments exceeded their budgets. County management agreed with the finding and noted, “This occurs in the offices of outside agencies.”
Another finding dealt with special revenue funds, small accounts like those for the law library and the jail commissary, that do not have budgets. These are controlled by constitutional officers and county management again cited “outside agencies” in its response.
The third finding, segregation of duties, is one frequently found in audit reports of Liberty County and many other governments. Auditors say that authorizing transactions, recording transactions and maintaining custody of assets should be assigned to three different employees. Management concurs with this finding and works to achieve fiscal controls but has to balance risk with economic feasibility.
The 132-page audit report and supporting documents are available for public inspection.
Parker can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.