Elbert County hires firm to finish overdue audit

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At its regular Oct. 23 meeting, the Board of County Commissioners approved a short-term contract with a Denver-based accounting firm to complete an audit of Elbert County's 2012 budget, an annual requirement that should have been completed and submitted to the state months ago.

The decision to bring in additional help to complete the 2012 audit follows the firing on Oct. 9 of Stan Wilmer, who had served for less than a year as the county's finance director.

BOCC Chairman Robert Rowland blamed the former finance director for the current disarray in the county's finance department, saying before the Oct. 23 meeting that Wilmer was “let go” because “he just wasn't getting the job done.”

Noting that Wilmer had been hired “one day before Commissioner (Larry) Ross and I took office,” Rowland said the BOCC is in no hurry to hire a new finance director.

“I don't believe in bringing in somebody new in the middle of a crisis,” he said.

Wilmer's annual base salary, according to Rowland, was $70,000.

Wilmer did not respond to messages left on his home phone requesting more details regarding his departure from the county finance office.

“We are going to apply the money we would be paying for Stan's salary toward this contract with the accounting firm,” Rowland said. “It's going to cost the county a net of about $6,500 to get this thing done.”

Rowland estimated the county will have to pay the accounting firm about $24,000 to complete the 2012 audit.

“That will be offset by a savings of a little more than $17,000 in the salary we would have been paying our former employee,” Rowland said.

The county has contracted with Denver-based accounting firm Poysti & Adams LLC to do the work.

Rowland confirmed that the county had recently received a warning letter from the state — which he called a “shot across the bow” — stating that the county was overdue in submitting the required document.

“Contrary to what some people have claimed, the state is not withholding tax reimbursements to the county because we're late,” said Rowland. “We are actually not even scheduled to get those reimbursements from the state until March of next year.”

Rowland said that since Wilmer's departure, county interim budget officer Johanna Sanders has been working with commissioners to “address some of the issues” related to the problems in the finance department.

“There have been similar problems in the past in getting the audits to the state on time,” Rowland said, estimating it will take about 150 hours for the accounting firm to complete the 2012 audit.

The firm will charge the county between $125 and $220 per hour for the work — $125-$130 an hour for staff work, $185 an hour for senior managers and $220 an hour for work done by the firm's partners.

“This is something that we have to get done,” said Commissioner Kurt Schlegel. “We've already missed two deadlines.”

The state's Department of Local Affairs can freeze repayment to counties of property taxes — the county's main source of revenue — if the county does not comply with state-mandated deadlines for filing financial statements.