By Kevin boozer Kboozer@civitasmedia.com
February 1, 2014
WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Council has voted unanimously to have an outside engineering firm and construction manager review all construction projects the company S2 has managed for Fairfield County in recent years.
The request by Councilman David Brown came Monday as council heard an update from Interim County Administrator Milton Pope on the wall collapse at the Drawdy Park football field construction site.
Pope said his office sent legal documents to S2 requesting information and documentation related to the Drawdy field and that the county is securing its own structural engineering firm to assess the damage and what it will take to repair the site.
“The county has a warranty. However, based upon some questions S2 engineering has been asked, we need to make sure that has been vetted properly and that we have the proper information about the cause of the failure and agree to those and (potential) remedies,” Pope said. “Clearly there should have been additional controls in place (with regard to the project).”
Although the project itself was initiated by his predecessor, former county administrator Phil Hinely, Pope said the only thing he could account for were his actions and those of county staff since his arrival in July.
“We need to be in a position where the county gets the work it deserves,” Pope said. “For staff now, the question is how to manage the point where we are right now as effectively as they can to see the county is protected as much as possible until there is a remedy to the situation we have.”
Brown said there were a number of projects the past three to four years that S2 was a contractor over in a management capacity. He wanted to make sure the work was done correctly and was up to code.
Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry questioned about recourse, how far back the county should look into S2 and what might happen if the study shows something does not meet code or if a mistake had been made.
“I would hope Drawdy Park is the exception and not the rule and that we have had some form of inspection going on throughout the process,” Perry said. “Hopefully, we don’t find anything but may be best to check.”
Council also received the county audit report from Elliot Davis LLC for the fiscal year ending June 2013. The firm reported the county’s financial statements were properly stated in accord with established principles and that the financial reporting mechanism was done by government accounting standards.
The firm’s unmodified opinion was based on testing it performed on the numbers in the balance sheet and financial statements had been fairly stated. The audit went beyond the general ledger accounting and also looked at the number of projects started.
The audit found the county complied with federal grant requirements totaling expenditures of approximately $900,000. The audit looked at documentation by the county and at federal requirements and found no major compliance issues with the way grant money was obtained or spent so there was no need for the county to write a check to the government to repay it for unaccounted for or misspent funds.
However, there were findings of significance when the audit examined county internal controls, processes and procedures.
Two repeat findings from the 2012 fiscal year that the auditors want to see corrected during 2014 involve procurement and proper bidding of contracts.
The firm said it needed to see more documentation, requisitions and purchase orders, and council minutes, particularly if a county project is over $25,000. The audit did not find that kind of documentation for a number of county transactions.
Another compliance issue is that approval of transactions or journal entries need to have a more consistent segregation of duties. Prepping an entry to affect the general ledger or a cash disbursement should involve at least two people — an initiator and a reviewer/approver.
The same holds true for the Assessors Office if appraised values are changed in the system due to an appeal. One person needs to input the information and another person approve it.
The firm said the county needs to provide details for statements in the ledgers and that the total of those transactions has to reconcile with what is in the general ledger. If there is a difference in the two ledgers due to the timing of a transaction or project, the difference should be identified, formally reconciled and addressed on a regular basis, according to Elliott Davis.
One repeat finding was that the cash receipts journal in Planning and Zoning needs to be reconciled each month. Another issue was unclaimed funds or tax funds in excess of the amount owed for property tax via auction of delinquent property.
The audit showed that detail was there and the funds were in the bank but found the funds need to be reconciled in detail.
Pope said some corrective actions were put in place as a result of findings from the Local Option Sales Tax investigation last fall, but said there were some deficiencies that need immediate attention and those focus around procurement.
Pope said recommendations will come to council in February or March regarding additional procurement policy changes. Pope also wants to set up a work session for council to review the audit in detail. Eventually the audit will be posted on the county website.