Stephens Co. Receives Good News on FY 2012 Audit

Stephens County receives good news on its Fiscal Year 2012 audit.

Meredith Lipson from the county’s auditing firm, Mauldin and Jenkins, appeared before the Stephens County Commission on Tuesday to make a presentation on last fiscal year’s audit.

Lipson said that the audit report includes what is called an unqualified opinion.

“That means a clean opinion,” said Lipson. “That is the one that you want.”

Lipson also commended the county for not having very many audit adjustments that were required throughout the process.

She said the county only had one, which is something positive that the county should be aware of.

“With us not having to make a lot of audit adjustments, that means that the numbers that you are given on a monthly basis to work with and to make your decisions with are good numbers and that is not always the case,” said Lipson. “There are many times in audits where we will be making 15, 20, 30 audit adjustments. What that means is that the numbers they were working with are not necessarily accurate.”

Lipson also commended the county for its fund balance.

She said that the good news for the county in Fiscal Year 2012 was that the county was actually able to grow its fund balance to about $8.3 million as of the end of the last fiscal year.

“Hats off to you guys,” said Lipson. “The actual revenues exceeded budget numbers for Fiscal Year 2012 and then your expenditures, you were able to not only to hold expenditures to what had been budgeted, but in almost every case, the departments came in under budget, which is really a great accomplishment to be able to do that. That way, you were able to keep your fund balance strong.”

Lipson did point out that not all of that money was available to be spent as it is earmarked for certain purposes.

According to Stephens County Administrator and Finance Director Phyllis Ayers, nearly $3.4 million of that is money the county uses to cover expenses at the start of a fiscal year until tax revenues begin coming during the fall, while $1.6 million of the fund balance is designated for landfill closure. In addition, about $360,000 worth of fund balance was budgeted for use in the current fiscal year to help balance the budget.

Overall, Stephens County Commission Chairman Stanley London says the audit report was a good one.

He credited staff for their work to make that happen.

“We cannot compliment Phyllis (Ayers) enough,” said London. “She is a great administrator and finance director and the staff she has and has trained over the years, we owe all of that credit, and the employees. The employees and the department heads are the reason that we have a fund balance.”

The audit did include a finding of segregation of duties, which auditors have said is found with most governments due to typically not having enough staff to fully segregate duties.