The Liberty County audit for fiscal year 2011 showed that financial statements “present fairly” and indicate “a good year,” according to auditor Wade Sansbury.
Sansbury, with Mauldin and Jenkins Certified Public Accountants, presented a summary of his report Thursday to the Liberty County Board of Commissioners.
“In our opinion, these financial statements present fairly, and in all material respects, the financial position of the county as of the financial year ended June 30, 2011,” he said.
The county held $154.9 million in total assets at the end of the year and $42.3 million in liabilities, resulting in $112.5 million in positive net assets of $112.5 million, he said. The net assets were an increase between $1.1 million and $1.2 million from the prior year.
Sansbury said the year was “all in all, a very good year.” As of the end of the year, the county had about $39.5 million in governmental fund balances, but an “unassigned, or truly spendable, fund balance of $8.8 (million).”
“The county did a very good job of maintaining expenses in line with budget,” he added.
Board Chairman John McIver asked Sansbury about the noted deficiencies.
According to the report, the auditors found several instances where there was not “appropriate segregation of duties among recording, distribution and reconciliation of cash accounts and other operation functions in various funds maintained by the county.”
The report said the issue especially is prominent in the offices of the clerk of the court, probate court, jail, child support receiver, law library, victim witness assistance, child support recovery and recreation funds.
“That is a very common item we see throughout the state,” Sansbury said.
“Any time you get away from the main activities, you’re going to have certain issues,” he said. “(Constitutional officers are) just are not going to have the resources and funds and staff available to do everything that they could to make sure that everything is done appropriately.”
County finance officer Kim McGlothlin said the issue arises almost every year because of how the legislature has defined constitutional offices and their responsibilities.
“Basically, my explanation is, until legislative changes are made, they don’t have to change — they don’t have to give us access or information,” McGlothlin said. “We work with what we can.”
Commissioner Gary Gilliard asked for clarification.
“If they would turn over their monies to us so that we could capture that information and include it in our accounting system, we wouldn’t have some of these (issues),” McGlothlin said, naming cash-collection sites such as the sheriff’s office, clerk of courts, probate court, district attorney and state court judge.
Gilliard then asked if the other offices would receive a copy of the report to inform them of the noted findings and recommendations.
“They have been in our finance committee meetings, and they have seen it,” McGlothlin said. “But that would mean that they relinquish part control to receiving the monies and distributing those … the biggest thing is that there is not a central cash collection system that incorporates all of the information.”
County Administrator Joey Brown added that under state law, the constitutional offices are the ones liable for collection and disbursement of their money, which is why they are reluctant to allow it to be county-controlled.
A possible solution would be to send a representative from the finance department to each office on a monthly basis to do fund reconciliations, Sansbury said.
Another finding indicated that the following departments did not adopt annual budgets: the Law Library Fund, Technology Fund, Confiscated Asset Fund, Jail Inmate Commissary Fund, and Liberty County Projects Corporation; additionally, the county did not adopt a balanced budget for the Multiple Grant Fund.
Like the issue with segregation of duties in constitutional offices, this issue also results from the funds being handled outside of the finance department, the report said.
Another finding indicated that county accounts were not adequately collateralized at “one financial institution.”
According to the Official Code of Georgia, all depositories of public funds are required to pledge securities of not less than 110 percent of the deposited public funds. However, the audit found that “county accounts were not adequately collateralized at one financial institution, allowing for the possibility of loss of assets if the financial institution were to become insolvent.”
To resolve the issue, the staff responded they will begin monitoring the pledging of collateral on a regular basis.
In other news:
• The BoC approved proposed LCPC code revisions with modifications agreed upon during the board of commissioners’ retreat March 8. The approval does not include planned military overlay zones, which must be created by the GIS department and then adopted.