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Lake Stevens Fire cited for audit errors

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Published on Wed, Sep 3, 2008
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Lake Stevens Fire cited
for audit errors

State changes reporting rules, Lake Stevens Fire catching up BY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR An audit report sent by the Washington State Auditor’s Office cites Lake Stevens Fire District as having deficiencies in internal controls, which represent a significant deficiency in auditing practices.

The report, dated August 18, 2008, states that the Fire District did not submit reports for 2005 and 2006 financial reports on time and that district personnel did not know how to correct a reporting error on the financial statements.

Lake Stevens Fire District Chief Gary Faucett says that the personnel issues have been taken care of and that the former employee was terminated over a year and a half ago. They have since hired a new employee with over 15 years of banking experience.

“When the former employee left and the new employee came in we contacted the state auditor and let them know we had issues, they said get it in as soon as you can. So, that’s what we did,” he said.

In 2005, the state requirements changed. Before, Fire Districts were able to use their own formats when reporting financial statements. However, they are now required to use the Auditor’s format, which offers no training process.

“You always had to report to the State Auditor, but you got to use your own format,” Faucett said. “Now all public agencies must use their template and they never gave us training on that.”

The State Auditor’s Office said they will answer technical questions but detailed training is up to the Fire Districts.

“Our job isn’t really to train, it is to provide information,” Mindy Chambers, Director of Communications for the State Auditor’s Office said. “We make recommendations on how to make improvements.”
Chief Faucett wants to assure the public that there is no problem with taxpayer’s money, it was just a different way of reporting that created the deficiency report.

“There was not a lack of internal controls,” he said. “We knew exactly where the funding was and so did the auditor. We didn’t file the way they wanted us to file. It’s a lack of properly reporting the way they wanted us to report.”

Lake Stevens Fire wasn’t the only district to have these issues.

“This finding is very common this year. It is not, under any circumstances, unique to the district,” Chambers said.

Lake Stevens Fire has not only responded to but has also fixed the problems reported in the audit report. They have also made sure that their 2007 reporting was in on time and done correctly.

“We looked at what their response was and we think they are trying to get it fixed and we really appreciate that,” Chambers said. “They are developing policies on their processes and getting some training.”

“I want to assure the public that all of their funds are accounted for and we run a very frugal operation,” Faucett said.

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