|Corrigan Times - Local News
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County receives clean audit for 2012
LIVINGSTON — Polk County received a clean, unqualifi ed opinion from auditors for the 2012 fi scal year at Tuesday's session of Commissioners Court when Belt Harris Pechacek LLLP delivered the report on the results of annual audit. "We're very pleased to announce that the report for the county is a clean, unqualifi ed opinion which is the highest level of assurance we can provide to the county that all the disclosures required by generally accepted accounting principles have been included and the fi nancial statements are materially correct," said Robert Belt. Belt singled out a few items from tremendous amount of data in the report to show the fi nancial health of the county. Belt said you can measure the health of a governmental entity by fund balance and the fact that the fund balances in both the general fund and the combined road and bridge fund grew during FY 2012 are an indication of excellent fi nancial health. The audit identifi ed a few material weaknesses that need to corrected, according to the management letter issued with the audit. • The Tax Assessor-Collector's office maintains eight bank accounts and those accounts are not reconciled in a timely manner throughout the year, the audit found. As a result it is difficult to determine the accuracy of the balances at year-end. Auditors recommended the Tax Assessor-Collectors office reconcile all band statements on a monthly basis and copies should be filed with the county auditor. • The District Clerk's office has $3.4 million in funds held in trust accounts and of those accounts, $1.5 million were not reconciled during the year — a deficiency that was noted in the previous year's audit. This ongoing issue resulted in an unknown, unreconciled difference in the current year since accounting records are not adequate to determine its amount, the management letter said. Auditors again recommended that the District Clerk's office reconcile all statements held in trust in a timely manner at the end of each month and develop a system of consistently documenting disbursements from the registry of the court accounts. • The audit also revealed a significant outstanding check had been issued by the county to the District Clerk's office on Aug. 8, 2012 and had not cleared the bank as of February 2013. Since the check had not been deposited, the county had a significant outstanding check on their bank reconciliation at year-end. Auditors re commended that the District Clerk make timely deposits of any checks received. The general fund grew by $93,000 during the year, but both accounts have well in excess of the 90 days of operating funds that you must see, Belt said. Expenditures also came in under budget in the primary accounts, he added. Nancy Smith, a bridge engineer with the Lufkin District of Texas Department of Transportation, made a presentation to commissioners about the off-system bridge replacement program. Commissioners voted to work with Smith to add all remaining bridges that met criteria to need replacement at the last inspection to the program since TxDOT has completed replacements for all other counties in the district except Polk County and a couple of others. Pct. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent also suggested adding a bridge on Hodge Bottom Road to the list and Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet said one of the bridges listed in his precinct had already been repaired by his crews, Menard Creed on Duff Road. "We took timbers out and put in new ones," Overstreet said. County Judge John Thompson also asked Smith to clarify the county's "economically disadvantaged" after the engineer said Polk County was not economically disadvantaged and would provide a 10 percent inkind match for any work done by state crews. The determination on whether the county is economically disadvantaged is based on the per-capita income. If it meets the standard, the percentage match drops to 5 percent or 8 percent, Smith said. The match does not have to be in cash. It can be labor done by county crews or funds paid to another consulting engineer for other project. "So if Bob has culverts to put in, we can use that as a match," Overstreet said. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the resolutions and requests for waivers for FY 15-17 projects for the TXDOT off system bridge replacement program. The court voted to table action on the Texas Historical Commission Emergency Grant Project to replace the courthouse elevator to investigate the possibility of obtaining additional funds from THC for the project. The agency's grant of $201,241 will fund less than 25 percent of the cost of the project. Construction manager at risk, J.E. Kingham Construction Company representatives informed commissioners at Tuesday's meeting that the project will have a guaranteed maximum price of $944,878 with options that could reduce the price to $899,528. Thompson addressed the Kingham representatives and said it was not a reflection on their work at all. "We need to try to get the commission to step up and try to help us on this. I am going to be in Austin shortly. Let's leave it on the agenda for April 9," Thompson said. IAH Interlocal Agreement George Killinger, Vice President of CEC, the contractor operating the IAH Secure Adult Detention Center appeared at Tuesday's meeting to discuss a new contract with McLennan County to house inmates at the Polk County facility. "We've just had to do a round of layoffs at the Polk County facility because our primary business has been with ICE out of the Houston office," Killinger said. Killinger added that the sequester and a lack of activity have forced them to reduce their business with the Polk County facility. However, Killinger said another CEC facility in Waco needs additional capacity to house ICE detainees behind held by the San Antonio district, which is closer to the Mexican border. Killinger explained that CEC has tried to make arrangements to contract directly between the San Antonio district and IAH, but they don't want to do that, so CEC is going to move other inmates out of the Waco facility and move them to Polk County to free up space for the ICE detainees. It's about a two-and-a-half to three hour drive from Waco to Polk County and Killinger expects up to 300 inmates will be moved here. "Most are in a stagnant stage where they are serving 90 days are more on a misdemeanor sentence. They will have access to attorney and family visits electronically. Some of them are paper ready and waiting to be transferred to TDCJ," Killinger said. "We have a number of interlocal agreements in place at IAH," Thompson said. "If we have the empty beds, we will take them. If we don't have the empty beds, we are not obligated to take them." Attorney Herb Bristow said the operator suffers the consequences of the lower daily rate being paid by McLennan County. Bristow drafted the agreement for McLennan County, where is practice is based and has advised Polk County throughout its involvement with IAH. The contract was also reviewed by the Polk County District Attorney's Office who found no objections. Animal Shelter proposal Architect Jeremy Zimmerman of Scott and Strong Architects presented plans to complete the Polk County Animal Shelter. Zimmerman said the base bid for finishing the shelter itself with treatment rooms for the animals, four stalls and lighting, is $550,000, He gave one alternate bid of $720 to expand the kennels. "That's a lot of money to spend on a dog," Commissioner Purvis said. "Can we get the bids and see how the numbers actually come in? Zimmerman said the drawings are complete and we could have the bids pretty quickly. Auditor Ray Stelly questioned how the county could pay for the project. Thompson said it would have to be including in the financing Specificially, with IAH and the federal situation with the sequester we have to think carefully before we borrow any money. We don't have a nickel invested in IAH, but we've gotten accustomed to the money. I was visiting with Herb before the meeting. Spent $19 million at the jail based on what the jail commission told us, that we needed 267 beds and we've got 131 inmates. It's a strange phenomenon. The Texas population is growing, the prison system has cut the number of beds down from 165,000 to 155,000 and they're still averaging about 58 percent. "I guess the Baby Boomers are getting so old they can't steal any more," Thompson said. "A few years ago you couldn't find a bed anywhere in the State of Texas. We thought that crime was always going to be part of it." Commissioner Purvis asked whether there was a state requirement that the county must operate an animal shelter. Commissioner Overstreet answered that the rule applied to counties with a population of more than 50,000. With this kind of money, on an animal shelter, I think voters should say something. Polk County SPCA Executive Director Carl Feren volunteered to meet with architect Jeremy Zimmerman, Commissioner Purvis and Sheriff Hammack to potentially find ways to cut costs on the shelter. Commissioners voted to delete the item from the agenda and bring it back at a future meeting. Resolution passed Commissioners voted unanimously to support Rural Telephone Cooperatives efforts to preserve the Universal Service Fund. Vernon Wooley of Eastex Telephone explained that the fund has helped rural telecommunications companies provide the same services to rural residence and companies that urban areas get. Legislation has been filed that would spread those funds to other providers in metropolitan areas to allow it to be used for wireless infrastructure. "If it is approved and we lose this funding we would have to raise phone bills 300 percent and they would still be paying the fee," Wooley said. "We have equipped all the school districts in the area with Region VI and VII broadband services, access to the Internet. We work with Verizon and AT&T. We have 31 towers in the service area that haul their signal to Houston. Without that, it's going to be a rough world up here."