Ford County to seek different auditor

PAXTON — After Ford County’s auditing firm indicated it would increase its fee for the county’s annual audit to more than $45,000 starting next year, a new auditor is being sought.

The county board’s finance committee gave permission to County Clerk & Recorder Amy Frederick to advertise for bids from auditing firms Thursday morning, with the hope of finding a better deal.

Frederick said the firm currently under contract by the county — Champaign-based Kemper CPA Group LLP — initially was charging the county a $16,900 fee for performing the annual audit, then raised the fee last year to $27,900.

“Now they have told me verbally they want to go to $45,000 next year — over $45,000,” Frederick told the committee. “I just think that’s ridiculous.”

Frederick said she sought bids from auditors last December but then realized after doing so that the county was still under contract with Kemper CPA Group for this fiscal year’s audit. Frederick said she would contact firms that submitted bids last winter — “if I feel they’re reasonable” — to see if they would like to submit a new bid.

Clean opinion on audit
Earlier during Thursday’s meeting, certified public accountant Karen Bojda of Kemper CPA Group presented what she termed a “clean opinion” for the audit she performed for last fiscal year, which ended Dec. 1, 2017.

Bojda said “the second good news” is that, despite some funds finishing the year with deficit spending — including the motor-fuel tax fund and public building commission fund — all funds still finished with positive balances.

Bojda said the enterprise fund — for the leasing out of county-owned farmland — saw more income than expenses but ended up having a “negative change in fund position” as a result of some of the revenue from that fund being moved into the general fund.

“That seems an appropriate thing to do with that money, so really I don’t see anything too much to worry about there,” Bojda said.

Bojda also reviewed the audit’s findings, some of which have “appeared for several years” and are “likely to repeat” due to circumstances outside the county’s control, she noted.

The findings included:

➜ The lack of a CPA on the county’s staff to compare financial statements and disclosures. “They’re really kind of complex, and you need somebody with fairly sophisticated accounting abilities to be able to compare them,” Bojda told the committee. “A lot of entities your size get that finding year after year, so it’s not really anything to worry about.”

➜ The lack of “segregation of duties” in the treasurer’s office. “It is a cause for concern, because this is how fraud happens,” Bojda said. “But, on the other hand, a lot of entities your size get that finding year after year because you don’t have the money to hire accounting staff to be able to segregate those duties as they need to be. ... The best way to address that, given the staff that you have, is for the board to continue to provide really close oversight and review.”

➜ The lack of independent monitoring of “journal entries” made by the treasurer. “Your treasurer (Krisha Shoemaker) often makes manual journal entries — it might be to correct errors, or to record certain transactions that don’t go through the normal cash receipts and cash disbursements process — and there’s not any oversight or review of those journal entries. So one of the findings is just our recommendation that somebody independent of the treasurer’s office review the entries that Krisha is making. Ideally, as you’re reviewing, say, the bills for the month, you would also (review) the journal entries she made for that month. You can just eyeball them and sign off on them so that another set of eyes is looking at those things.”

➜ The lack of a “depreciation schedule” for the county’s capital assets, including its vehicles and infrastructure. Bojda said Frederick has been asked to create a deprecation schedule and maintain it, “but it’s hard for her to get information from the departments that she needs to be able to keep track of (the county’s) capital assets and their depreciation.” Bojda, however, told the committee that she feels “that is something that you guys should be able to do.”

➜ The lack of a suitable accounting system to keep track of commissary funds at the county jail. “The sheriff’s department, they’re addressing the problem” by getting new software, Bojda said.

Bojda said she has spoken with officials in the various county departments about the audit findings, noting that “everybody has been very responsive in terms of trying to address them.”

Other business
Also at Thursday’s finance committee meeting:

➜ The committee voted to recommend the full county board approve the contribution of $50,000 to the University of Illinois Extension, with those funds being generated through the county’s property-tax levy, to help cover the Extension’s costs for the fiscal year that began July 1. The county has levied $50,000 annually to help fund the Extension for several years. “I have no problem with that,” said Chase McCall of Gibson City, the committee’s chairman. “They do a great deal of work in Ford County. It’s a good service.”

➜ Sheriff Mark Doran asked that the county provide him a $21,500 check to pay for a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe the sheriff’s department acquired from the village of Gifford for use as a squad vehicle. Doran said the funds must be provided to the village in the next week. The sport-utility vehicle has 48,000 miles on it, Doran said. After some discussion, it was decided that Doran will meet with the county clerk to decide from which line items in Doran’s budget the funds will come. Doran said he expects the sheriff’s office will also need to buy “two or three” other squad vehicles “in the next two years,” as three already have more than 120,000 miles on their odometers. The committee suggested Doran prepare for the expense by earmarking, for vehicle purchases, 20 percent of the income his department receives for the boarding of federal prisoners at the county jail. Doran said $33,000 was received in income last month alone for the boarding of prisoners.

➜ The committee voted to recommend the full board approve a series of resolutions authorizing the sale of properties that were acquired by the county after their real estate taxes went unpaid. Under the resolutions, the county will receive $1,129 from property bidder Evan Jehle, $355 from bidder Donald P. Burns, $305 from bidder Steven Morris, $756 from bidder Christensen Properties LLC and $300 from bidder Galen D. Litwiller.

➜ The committee voted to recommend the full board approve the appointment of Randy Aberle to a two-year term on the Ford County Board of Review, with his term expiring at the end of the 2018 assessment year. Aberle replaces Robert Link of Gibson City, who resigned from the board of review effective May 31.

➜ The committee voted to recommend the full board approve Board Chairman Randy Berger’s appointments of Louis Stroh of rural Anchor as a commissioner of the Sibley Drainage District; Michael J. Kane of rural Cullom as a commissioner of Union Drainage District No. 1; Timothy Ifft of rural Piper City as a commissioner of Union Drainage District No. 1; Steve Meenen of rural Melvin as a commissioner of the Wall Township Drainage District; Darrell Dunahee of rural Melvin as a commissioner of the Big Four Drainage District; Tim Muehlenpfort of rural Melvin as a commissioner of the Wall Township Drainage District; Thomas E. Rock of Roberts as a commissioner of the Little Lyman Drainage District; Ryan Anderson of rural Danforth as a commissioner of Drainage District No. 1 of the Township of Pella; Wayne Niewold of rural Loda as a commissioner of the Walton Drainage District; and Eugene Froelich as a commissioner of Drainage District No. 2 of the Township of Pella. All appointments run through September 2021.

Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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