Archive for Tuesday, July 16, 2013

County audit finds no major problems but cites need for additional financial controls

July 16, 2013


A routine audit of the finances of Douglas County government revealed no material problems with how the county accounted for its funds in 2012, but it does suggest additional controls that would prevent the possibility of major problems in the future.

The audit also found fault in the handling of some of the economic development incentives that were awarded to Berry Plastics in 2011 related to the development of the company's new distribution center north of Lawrence.

County officials acknowledged that error, but said it had no impact on the cost to taxpayers of that project.

The annual audit, compiled by the accounting firm Allen, Gibbs and Houlik, examined the financial books of the county for the year ending Dec. 31, 2012. It also looked at accounts of the Douglas County Free Fair, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, and the Douglas County Extension Council.

County commissioners will review the audit report when they meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse.

Overall, the audit found only minor errors in the year-end fund balances reported by the county, but county officials determined they were not material errors and had no meaningful impact on the county's bottom line. Those errors related to the recording of certain accounts payable at the end of the year, the reporting of accrued interest and premium payments on investments, and cash balances at the Health Department that resulted from a system-generated error.

The audit found fault with one project related to developing the new Berry Plastics distribution center. That company received $431,000 in direct assistance through a combination of county, state and federal funds to offset the cost of certain infrastructure around the new facility.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug said part of that money was used to build a 500,000-gallon water storage facility that is needed for fire protection at the plant. And while that was an allowable use of the funds, the auditors said the contract to build the storage facility should have been awarded through the county's purchasing process and subject to County Commission approval.

Weinaug said he didn't believe at the time that commission approval was necessary since the building was not being purchased for use by the county itself, and because commissioners had already approved the overall project and were aware that a construction company would need to be hired.

In other business, commissioners will:

• Consider authorizing the treatment of Lone Star Lake for infestations of Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM), an exotic aquatic plant that grows up to the surface of water and interferes with boating, swimming and fishing.

• Consider signing a 15-year tower access lease with the Kansas Department of Transportation to give the county access to a KDOT tower west of Lawrence on U.S. Highway 40, for a total cost of $16,682 over the term of the lease.

• And consider purchasing six vehicles for various departments through Shawnee Mission Ford using a regional cooperative bidding process, at a total cost of $268,903.


lawrencereporter 4 years, 10 months ago

Lets see here... First, Thomas Fritzel takes Junction City for a $12 million dollar No-Bid infrastructure project and pockets millions in profit.

Douglas County doesn't follow their purchasing procedures and Thomas Fritzel gets a $431,000 dollar No-Bid infrastructure project at the Berry Plastics warehouse site.

Schumm, Dever, Reardon, and Farmer tonight handed Thomas Fritzel a $12+ million dollar No-Bid infrastructure project funded by the taxpayers.

Tonight Farmer showed us all how campaign contributions buy votes. The Fritzel's gave Farmer thousands of dollars during his campaign and it clearly made a difference.

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