Madera County remains behind on its audits -- with fiscal year 2012 and 2013 still not complete -- but the county is making progress and "finally getting a hand" on where its money is, Supervisor David Rogers said Tuesday during a Board of Supervisors meeting.
Rogers' comments, like several other supervisors, came in defense of county Auditor-Controller Marcia Hall, who summarized the work her office has done over the past two years.
A couple of citizens criticized Hall's office Tuesday, echoing some grand jury findings issued last year that millions may have been lost in potential state and federal funds because of late auditing.
Hall acknowledged the audit delays resulted in some missed opportunities to apply for grants. Rogers thanked her for "taking the bullet" for the problem but reminded residents that Hall was appointed in January 2012, and "we've been in the abyss for years." The county has been chronically late in its audits for at least six years, he said.
Hall emphasized that changes are underway to get the county on a much faster track.
A big audit problem: Madera County has about 775 separate funds, which Hall compared to having to sort through hundreds of buckets of paint without labels and place them into one of six groups.
Hall said she manually input 11,000 lines of data to categorize the funds. The data was given to GALLINA LLP, a certified public accountants group in the Sacramento area, which should have the 2012 audit completed by next month, Hall said. The audit was supposed to be done by March 2013, she said, but at that time, the 2011 audit was still underway.
Another problem: Old financial software. The county has upgraded to a new system, which should speed along future audits. Supervisor Tom Wheeler said another problem is that county information systems haven't been integrated, which is also being corrected.
Hall described it this way: "Everyone had an oar in the water, trying to move forward, but we weren't in synch."
When Hall started, she said, her office didn't have a single accountant, compared to Fresno County, which has six. The county is now looking to hire some accountants, Hall said, and will seek some training from Fresno County, which uses the same software Madera County just upgraded to.
The 2013 audit is due in March. Hall hopes strides made in preparing the 2012 audit will help meet the latest deadline.
"I'm not happy that it's taken this long," Hall said, "but I'm happy we've made positive progress."
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