Edmonds financial statements get State Auditor’s seal of approval

The City of Edmonds received good marks from the Washington State Auditor according to results of an accountability audit presented Wednesday.

The State Auditor’s Office (SAO) conducted the audit for the City of Edmonds’ fiscal year 2012. The goal was to evaluate internal controls and to determine whether the city complied with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures.

“In the areas we examined, the city’s internal controls are adequate to safeguard public assets,” the SAO said during the Wednesday report, known as an exit conference. “The city also complied with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures in the areas we examined.”

In other words, the SAO was able to give unqualified opinions on the city finances.

Similar results were achieved in Edmonds’ accounting for “federal grant” programs.

The SAO found that Edmonds had addressed any issues brought up in previous years audits. And the only concerns raised this year were a few minor documentation issues and the need to improve the cash receipts policies regarding fire permits. None of these items were considered “major” and in fact received the lightest mention that the SAO could make.

One matter that produced almost no discussion, but was included in typed closing comments, was the status of the City of Edmonds’ $4.965 million Interlocal agreement with the Edmonds Center for the Arts. The SAO had recommended that this amount be removed from the assets of the city and from the liabilities of the Public Facilities District, which is the municipal corporation that owns and operates ECA and is considered a related party.

After the Edmonds City Council became involved in the issue, the city and the Public Facilities District are revising the Interlocal agreement to allow the $4.965 million to be reported as it had been in the past. The SAO felt this change was sufficient to solve the concern.

Council President Diane Buckschnis explained to My Edmonds News this had been the issue that created such a stir at the end of the year. She was happy to see the issue resolved but noted that it was unfortunate that it took many hours of time to do so.

While changes being made will affect the inclusion of the amounts into the financial statements, none of the changes would have any actual effect on the Public Facilities District’s ability to make payments to the city under the interlocal agreement.

Overall, Edmonds should be proud of its performance in the audit. The SAO found the city’s statements to be in compliance with all requirements and they only found “minor” points to make. Given that their job is to look for areas needing improvement, this was a good sign.

– By Harry Gatjens

Disclosure: Accountant Harry Gatjens occasionally writes columns and covers city government for My Edmonds News. He is one of 14 candidates who has applied for appointment to the vacant seat on the Edmonds City Council.

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