State audit says Washougal has cleaned up its accounts

Report notes how city corrected deficiencies auditors cited in 2008

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

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The city of Washougal received a clean accountability audit for the 2009 fiscal year, just one year after a scathing audit identified $100,000 of public money that was unaccounted for and criticized the city’s internal controls.

The Washington State Auditor’s Office released the city’s most recent accountability audit, which is performed each year, on Monday. The auditor’s office reported no findings and highlighted how the city addressed past deficiencies.

“This is exactly what we expected we would have and should have every year,” Washougal Mayor Sean Guard said. Guard was elected mayor in 2009.

In response to the findings from the 2008 audit, the auditor’s office said the city has increased internal controls to ensure that all city transactions are properly supported and used for a public purpose. In addition, a lodging tax advisory committee was established and is meeting to determine how those funds should be spent.

The 2008 audit also found the city wasn’t able to demonstrate all expenditures were for a valid public purpose. In response, the city now has all expenditures reviewed by the originating department head, clerk, finance director’s office and the finance committee, according to the report.

In addition, all travel, employee reimbursement and credit card statements are reviewed by the city administrator and mayor, according to the report.

The auditor’s office did offer some suggestions for areas not significant enough to constitute an official finding.

The city has a system in place for reimbursing the city’s general fund for indirect costs. An example of an indirect cost is the utility billing the city’s finance department does for the public works department.

While the city’s budget includes the reimbursement to the general fund, it does not specify how the city determined the reimbursement amount, Guard said.

The city is working to establish written policies and procedures to formally document its allocation process, he said.

The auditor’s office also recommended the city create an inventory of city equipment including computers and printers. The city is working to create that inventory, Guard said.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office’s criminal investigation into the unaccounted-for money is ongoing.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or marissa.harshman@columbian.com.