Last year the town's audit report was submitted to the state several months late. The North Carolina Local Government Commission was not amused.
Our new town manager made sure this year's report was completed on time. A major factor in on-time performance was the selection of a new auditing firm, Pittard, Perry & Crone, Inc. That firm has provided the commissioners with its preliminary report.
In the report, our auditor identified twelve significant control deficiencies - that is, deficiencies in internal controls that adversely affect the town's ability to make sure our accounts are accurate. The audit also finds eleven material weaknesses - that is, significant deficiencies that might allow undetected material misstatements of the town's financial position.
How long have these problems existed? In most cases, for years. Why didn't our previous auditor find them? They didn't look. They even told us they didn't look. The audit, Seiler Zachman and Associates explained, was "... not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the Town's internal control over financial reporting.... and would not necessarily identify all deficiencies in internal control that might be significant deficiencies or material weaknesses." Why we accepted such an audit is beyond me. My only excuse for the 2007 audit is that it arrived so late it was no help anyhow in dealing with the next budget cycle. In the course of working on the current budget, this commission uncovered a number of the problems noted by our new auditor.
Randy Cahoon is already busy correcting most of these longstanding deficiencies.