Washougal earns a clean audit

City will get to skip a report in 2014

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City of Washougal officials are excited about another clean audit.

The newest independent accountability report, from the Washington State Auditor’s Office, pertains to Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2012. It examined the areas of the Open Public Meetings Act, cash receipting, building and planning, safeguarding of assets (fuel) and the use of restricted funds.

The audit also examined third party cash receipting, key software applications, payroll and benefits and financial condition.

“In the areas we examined, the city’s internal controls were adequate to safeguard public assets,” the report stated. “The city also complied with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures in the areas we examined.”

The report mentions the city of Washougal had 82 employees in 2012, and its budget was $29.7 million.

In an audit of the city’s financial statements, the auditor’s office did not identify any deficiencies in internal control that would be considered to be material weaknesses.

The city was also found to be in compliance with certain provisions of laws, regulations, contracts and grant agreements.

The report mentions Washougal’s policy to maintain unencumbered general fund reserves of at least 16 percent. When the financial statements were presented, the reserves were $1.49 million.

The State Auditor’s Office audits Washougal on an annual basis, but the city will get to skip a year because this was the third year in a row that there were no findings.

“This positive result is a huge compliment to the countless hours spent by staff to ensure that all funds were properly accounted for,” Washougal Finance Director Jennifer Forsberg said. “I am very proud of these results and want to thank all city staff for their hard work and dedication to ensure processes are being followed, thereby safeguarding public assets and funds.

“We have made many improvements in processes and procedures in the past three years and will continue to review and refine them in the future as well,” she added.

Not having an audit for 2013 will save the city $20,000.

Mayor Sean Guard credited Forsberg for her leadership, as well as employees in the finance and other city departments.

“It has been our emphasis over the last several years to review and update all of our policies and practices to ensure that we are fulfilling our responsibility to this community by using your funds appropriately,” Guard said.

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

Washougal’s audit history

A State Auditor’s Office report released in October 2009 mentioned 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.

In May 2012, the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office decided to not file any charges as a result of the Washougal financial investigation. A report, prepared by Det. Tom Mitchum, had referred the case to the prosecutor’s office for review with no recommended prosecutorial action.

Mitchum agreed with the auditor’s report that due to insufficient record-keeping and Columbia River Productions LLC’s refusal to participate in the audit or meet with him, he and the auditor were not able to determine if the city or the production company is owed any money or whether public money was misused, lost or misappropriated.