“They found that our financial statements are ‘unqualified,’ which is a good thing. You don’t want to have a qualified audit,” county finance director Lynn Burns said.
Burns gave a report of the audit to the Bradley County Commission during Monday’s voting session.
A concern of the auditors was a lack of division of jobs within the ambulance service and Clerk and Master’s Office.
“They are very small offices. The biggest thing we can do would be to add staff to allow them to segregate some duties. That’s something we look at every year when we do budgets, and that’s an option,” Burns said.
There were two other findings by the auditors.
“The fire department violated the county’s credit card policy,” Burns said.
According to Burns, Bradley County Fire-Rescue is planning a retraining on the county’s credit card policy to ensure it is being followed.
The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office did not deposit some work release funds within the recommended three days.
There were no material findings, which is a good finding, Burns said.
The audit also shows assets are up and debt has decreased slightly.
“The net assets at the end of June 2012 [amounted to] $24,806,861,” Burns said. “That is up about 13 1/2 percent over the prior year. ... Net assets in government is equivalent to your profit in a corporation.”
Part of this increase in assets was achieved by paying down debt.
Burns said the county makes payments on debt every year.
Last year, long-term debt was paid down approximately $3.5 million.
“Principal pays down every year,” Burns said.
The county has $74 million in debt. The majority of this is related to schools’ capital projects.
“Of this debt, 82 percent is schools,” Burns said.
The majority of the remaining amount is from the construction of the jail.
Burns said if no more money is borrowed, the county could have the full amount paid off in 16 or 17 years.
“Normally we borrow money for capital projects only,” Burns said. “If we build a school, that building has a 40-year life. We do debt for 20, so we are doing debt for half the life of that building.”
She said the amount being put aside for debt service is covering current debt payments.
Burns said she had never had a department be uncooperative when it came to the audit. She said this is something not every county can say.
Third District Commissioner Jeff Morelock asked about the best practice listed in the audit. In this year’s audit, as in the past, auditors suggested the county switch to a “central system of accounting, budgeting and purchasing.”
Burns said Commissions in the past had discussed the merits of switching.
“Schools do their own accounting. The Road Department does their own accounting. ... It’s something that has worked very well,” Burns said. “In some counties, it does not work, but in Bradley County it has..
The complete audit can be viewed at http://www.bradleyco.net/acct_summary.aspx.