SMITHVILLE — Smithville School District will retain Westbrook and Co. for its annual financial audit after school board members approved continuing to engage the company for services for three years through 2022. The company lasted completed work for the district this year. The cost of the audit contract for three years totals $34,875.
The annual audit is required by law and separate from an audit from the state auditor’s office. Community members are currently seeking signatures on a petition to call on the state auditor’s office to conduct an audit of the district.
“They’re going to tell us we need to hire more district office support staff,” Vice President of the Board Sarah Lamer said of auditing firm Westbrook, recalling notes from last year’s annual findings.
When auditors came a year ago, the only poor rating the district received from Westbrook was in separation of duties. As the district is limited on funds, and has been for several years, Donna White manages many aspects of district billing and board secretary duties. Auditors often tell taxing entities they would like to see more separation of duties among staff, making the rating not uncommon.
“Since we are limited in numbers, one person must complete several tasks,” Assistant Superintendent Wayne Krueger said. “For example, Donna White can make a deposit at the bank and she too balances the books. This is in conflict based on best practices. Our payroll specialist who issues monthly pay checks has the ability to add a person to our accounting software. Ideally, only one person could issue checks while another could add staff. All of this is to reduce the risk of fraud.”
Krueger added that though separation of duties has been identified as a concern in the past, auditors have never identified any fraud, embezzlement or wrongdoing. Ultimately, past audits have resulted in very high marks.
“As we continue to grow,” Krueger said, “this will work itself out.”
As far as the process goes, according to Krueger, the auditing firm not only will go over financials but will additionally pick a select few random areas to go more in-depth on in a process similar to a performance audit.
“The difference between this audit and one that would be performed by the State Auditor’s Office,” Krueger said. “The State Auditor goes in-depth in all areas.”
Krueger said each year the areas Westbrook selects for in-depth investigation rotates. This means after a few years, every area is looked at closely.
For more information about the contract, view the PDF attached to the online version of this article.