Washougal earns another clean audit

State Auditor’s Office notes compliance in utility billing, receipting, and other areas

City of Washougal leaders and staff have received another dose of good news from the State Auditor’s Office.

An accountability audit report, released Monday morning, indicates the city complied with state laws and regulations in the areas of utility billing and receipting, impact fees, disbursements, payroll and financial condition during 2010.

“In the areas we examined, the city’s internal controls were adequate to safeguard public assets,” the report stated.

A report on the city’s financial statements and compliance with federal laws and regulations was released in September, indicating no deficiencies in financial reporting or internal controls over major programs including the pedestrian tunnel located near Pendleton Woolen Mills.

“I am extremely pleased with the conclusion of this audit and the one finalized earlier this fall which also had no findings or management letter,” Mayor Sean Guard said in a statement. “This audit is especially gratifying because it covers the initial period under my full administration and helps to show that our city is taking steps to improve our policies and procedures.”

In addition to thanking the State Auditor’s Office for assisting city staff members as they update old policies and improve record keeping, he commended the Finance Department and Director Jennifer Forsberg.

Prior to being hired as the Washougal Finance Director in July 2010, Forsberg was a fraud investigative manager for the auditor’s office.

“When she stepped into the position, she did so knowing that it was going to be a very stressful and difficult task to get us back on the right track in a short period of time,” Guard said. “She and her staff have been successful, and I have every faith that through 2012 we will complete most of our tasks relating to new, updated policies and procedures.”

He commended all of the city staff members for proper record keeping.

“Most residents don’t realize the importance of the record-keeping needed by inspectors, police officers, meter-readers, water/sewer staff, permit technicians and all the rest who assist in getting the proper information prepared,” Guard said.

The cost of the 2010 audit was $23,825 plus $320 in travel expenses. The estimated cost for the next audit is $27,200 plus travel expenses. That audit, to be conducted in 2012, will cover accountability for public resources, financial statement and federal programs.

A State Auditor’s Office report released in October 2009 said Washougal was not able to account for approximately $100,000 in revenue generated from festivals, including Washougalfest in 2008 and Riverfest in 2009.

The audit findings also mentioned the city did not have any recorded revenue from the Washougal Main Street Market.

The city paid the Downtown Revitalization and Implementation Committee $75,000 in 2008 and $50,000 in 2009 for its event management services.

After the auditor’s office was unable to determine what happened to some of the revenue from the festivals, Guard asked the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to proceed with a criminal investigation and determine if any laws were broken or if city funds were misappropriated.

That investigation is reportedly continuing, according to Clark County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tom Mitchum and Sgt. of Major Crimes Kevin Allais.