SWCD audit finds weakness in reporting

By Press Staff Writer

An audit of the Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District for the years 2018 and 2019 found “material weakness” in the district’s financial reporting.
According to a report released last week by the Auditor of State office, the district incorrectly posted $70,750 that was budgeted by the county in 2019 for district operating expenses to a wrong account.
Also, equipment disbursements of $33,700 were incorrectly classified as contract services disbursements.
The audit said those errors and others of smaller amounts were not identified and corrected prior to the district preparing its financial statements…”due to deficiencies in the district’s internal controls over financial statement monitoring.”
In its response, the district said both errors were corrected. The district purchased an air seeder for $33,700 with grant money to rent to landowners for planting cover crops and incorrectly classified the equipment as contract services rather than equipment.
The machine was intended for rental use and contract services was identified by the SWCD as the best classification to use for future tracking of income and expenses for the purchase. The $70,050 that was deposited in the wrong account was corrected within days due to internal Ottawa SWCD controls that identified the error. The audit identified the paper trail in the SWCD the paper trail in the SWCD financials that showed the correction
The audit also includes a finding for recovery of $90 against two employees and four district supervisors who attended a tour of a Jack Daniel’s distillery during a National Association of Conservation Districts conference in Nashville, Tenn. in 2018.
“The district should implement policies and procedures to verify that no alcohol purchases are made with public funds,” the report says.
The district response states: “The tour was part of an offered tour from the NACD conference, but the SWCD chose to organize their own trip to the facility to save expenses (over $500 saved). This tour explained the process from harvesting through production. The employees and board were unaware that samples were included in the cost of the tour. The cost of the tour has since been reimbursed by all that attended.”


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