Budgets and audits need to be timely
At first it looked like a typo on the Faribault County Board of Commissioners agenda. It was a review of the 2006 audit.
Since this is March of 2008, it would seem logical that the 2007 audit would be the one that is being presented. But it was not the 2007 audit, it was indeed the one from 2006.
The county has the State Auditor’s office perform the audit. Faribault County Auditor John Thompson explained that many counties have the state perform the audit. He is not sure, however, whether Faribault County should continue in this practice.
Thompson said that the audit costs the county $55,000 and he is fairly sure that it could be done for less money with a private accounting firm. And it could probably be done in a more timely manner.
Thompson also told us that the state does other area counties’ audits first, and leaves Faribault County for last. The 2006 audit was worked on in 2007, but late in the year. It was not ready to be presented until this second commissioners meeting in March of 2008. That is just way too late to be effective.
Any items of accounting that need to have changes, or any discrepancies from 2006, can’t be changed for the next year, 2007, because that year is already over and closed. In fact, we can see where it could be difficult to implement them in 2008, because this year is already one fourth over.
An audit is a tool, but it is a tool that is rendered ineffective if it is presented so late that nobody any longer cares what happened two years ago. It needs to be presented at least some time in the year following the audit. Thompson would like to see the audit presented no later than August of the next year after the audit. Makes sense to us. That way it could be used for helping set the budget for the next year.
We have complained in this space in the past about the fact that the City of Blue Earth”s budget for 2008 has not yet been totally presented or adopted by the council. It is true that there have been some extenuating circumstances as to why the 2008 budget is not yet finished, and it is also true that a one-page summary budget was adopted in December. Also true is the fact that pieces of the budget have been presented at meetings. However, the whole city budget for 2008 has not been adopted by the council and now the year is one fourth over.
Budgets and audits are guideposts for governmental bodies to operate with. The budget explains what the government unit plans on doing financially for the year. The audit shows what it actually did for the year. The budget needs to be completed before the year that it covers in order to be of maximum use. Likewise an audit needs to be performed as soon after the year is over as possible.
We think the county needs to go to ‘Plan B’ for getting its audit done.