County clears audit with flying colors

KINGMAN – According to County Manager Ron Walker, Mohave County has once again passed their annual state audit.

“Every year, the state audits our financial structure,” Walker said. “And, once again, the auditors have found no improprieties or even material weaknesses.”

Two audits are conducted on county and city expenditures in Arizona every year, county officials said. The first is federally mandated on the use of grant funds. This audit makes sure that the accounting on how grants are spent is accurate and that the grant money is being spent appropriately.

The second is required by the state, assessing the annual expenditures of each city and county.

“The state has a rule as to how much expense the counties and cities are allowed,” said Diane Melendez, Mohave County Finance Department senior accountant. “As far as I know, only Arizona does this.

“California and other states do not have a formal reporting requirement or a state calculation of expenditure limits. Arizona determines every local government agency’s expenditure limit each year. Mohave County has been well within the limits for as long as I’ve been here. In fact, Mohave County is presently close to 50 percent under our expenditure limit.”

Mohave County Finance Director John Timko said that the state set the expenditure limit at $121,390,981 for fiscal year 2004-05.

The actual expenditures for that year, he said, were $64,257,539, under budget by $57,133,442.

“We have an excellent staff that believes in wise fiscal management,” Walker said. “We don’t set our tax rates to the max, only to the needs of service to the people. We don’t spend just because the state tells us we can. We spend what we need and no more. We have a stringent bidding process to get the best value for every dime and we pay competitive wages so we can keep good people and avoid problems.”

According to Melendez, the state will handle the audits for government structures that have a history of problems. All others, she said, are outsourced. The last time the state felt it necessary to handle the county’s audit personally was in 1994. The recent audit just released in April was handled by Walker and Armstrong, LLP.

Mohave County’s budgets and financial reports are available from the Finance Department on the county Web site at www.co.Mohave.az.us. County employees are currently in the process of preparing the reports for fiscal year 2005-06 in preparation the next audit.