FEBRUARY 24, 1997
Fire district to adopt new finance policy
State audit identifies problem areas
by Jeff Switzer, senior staff reporter
Responding to a State Auditor's report that identified areas of concern, the Woodinville Fire Board adopted new finance policies last week which they hope will prevent future problems. The board voted 4-0-1 to adopt the new financial policy for the district. Commissioner Don Leggett was excused.
"We're in the process of updating a number of policies in the department. This one came to light with the audit," said Fire Chief Steve Smith. "[The financial policy] needed to be updated and clarified so everybody understood what the rules were."
As spelled out in the new policy:
The State Auditor's report dated Jan. 3 said the district failed to deposit funds in a timely manner, lacked adequate controls over purchasing, and had no documentation for several of the former fire chief's credit card transactions.
- Formal bidding procedures must be adhered to;
- All receipts will have the name of the business printed on them;
- Credit card purchases will be audited by someone other than the employee making the purchase; and
- Funds are to be transmitted to the county in a timely fashion.
The district requested the audit period to be extended through Aug. 31, 1996, rather than the typical January 1995 to January 1996 period, thereby including the remainder of former Fire Chief Jim Davis' tenure before his resignation.
"During our audit of the district's 1995 and 1996 credit card expenditures, we noted several instances where the former fire chief's credit card purchases did not have adequate supporting documentation," the report reads. "Out of 20 transactions tested in 1995 and 1996, 12 transactions in the amount of $715.45 had no receipts attached, and seven transactions in the amount of $987.05 had credit slips showing totals instead of receipts showing detail. This situation occurred because the former fire chief circumvented internal controls over credit card use," the report said.
In response, the fire district said they felt the credit card issue was no longer an issue because "current employees of the district will follow the procedure of providing receipts for credit card transactions."
The audit also noted that checks and cash were sent to the county treasurer only once every three weeks to a month, including a check for $249,702 held for three weeks.
"Our department welcomes these audits," Smith added, noting that while it was important to correct the problems, they were not severe discrepancies. "The input makes us more efficient and accountable."