Fillmore County’s audit for 2015 was conducted by Eide Bailly LLP. Over a quarter of Minnesota counties hired a private firm to do their audit in 2015. State Auditor Rebecca Otto asked for a review of county audits conducted by private CPA firms. A report was released, “Assessing the Adequacy of 2015 County Audits Performed by Private CPA Firms.”
Manager Joel Stencel and Brian Bluhm, Director of Assurance Services, were in the county this week working on the county’s 2016 audit. They wanted to address the state auditor’s assessment.
Bluhm said no firms were singled out in the assessment. Commissioner Duane Bakke maintained that the state auditor’s office reviews our audit every year. The county has had a private firm do the audit since 2003.
Bluhm said it was disappointing to them that they were not able to respond to the review before the report was issued. We did not have the opportunity to show them where we did the work. The issue was inadequate documentation in the firm’s work papers. Bluhm noted they will look into those documentation items this week. If any financial statements were materially misstated they could correct them in the 2016 audit.
Bakke made it clear that there is no allegation that money is short or missing.
Chairman Randy Dahl explained that having an audit at the county level is not only for compliance but also to let us see where we could do better. The private audit is a valuable tool. He suggested the state is politicizing the current system. Bakke said counties can choose to use a private firm for the audit or use the state auditor.
County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman noted that all local governments, including school districts, are required by law to have an audit. She expressed her confidence in Eide Bailly, adding they are an excellent firm to do the audit for us.
Bluhm insisted they take it seriously. He expressed his firm’s appreciation for the opportunity to do the county’s audit.
Other business in brief
• Rural recycling sites were again discussed. These rural dumpsters are only for recyclables; like cardboard, cans, and plastic bottles. They are put there for the benefit of rural residents. There have been problems with the wind flipping up the lids and blowing material out. The bins will be placed so wind will more likely keep the lids down. Several possible actions were discussed that may be taken to discourage improper dumping.
• In March the board approved the Benefits Committee’s request to send out for requests for proposals for full benefit consulting. Three proposals were received. The committee recommended the low quote from Flexible Benefits Consulting, Inc. for benefit consulting services. Justin Kroeger stated they would ask for 1.25% commission for their services. Based on health insurance premiums and current built in commission rates, it would amount to about $16,400. He explained it will be an open ended agreement which can be terminated with a 30-day notice. The board approved the Flexible Benefits proposal.
• County Attorney Brett Corson informed the board about a Summons and Complaint due to a clandestine lab cleanup. The civil action is over a cleanup costing $4,465.57 that was conducted last year. The defendants are required to pay restitution to the land owner, but so far have paid little.
The land is unmarketable until it has been certified that it is cleaned up. The landowner chose not to follow the request for proper disposal of the shed where the product was produced. The shed has been removed, but the landowner has refused to say where it was taken for disposal. Because of the chemicals involved, the shed needs to be disposed of properly for environmental reasons.
Corson said to make the property cleanup certified, it will require knowing where the shed went.
Bakke said he was concerned about the ordinance and the fact that the landowner was not aware of the clandestine use of the property. However, the disposing of the shed was illegal.
The board approved the placing of a tax assessment on the property to collect over a period of years for the clandestine lab cleanup cost, which the county has paid. If the amount is paid by alternative means, the lean on the property will be released.
• Corine Haugen, an intern with the attorney’s office for the last three months, commented on her experience. She noted the team was always willing to answer questions and to give her work. She thanked the board for the opportunity, adding that based on her own educational goals, the internship was extremely successful.
• A request had been made by a neighboring landowner to annex some property into the city of Ostrander. The Minnesota Board of Adjustments reported that the property was already within the city limits according to MnDot maps. A Statement of Understanding of the city limits of the city of Ostrander was approved. The signing of the statement by the county, city and township is an agreement that the real estate taxes for 2018 and there after will reflect that the property is located within Ostrander city limits.
• Alex Hartley was hired as an Intermittent Deputy effective April 26.
• A consultant services contract with Bolton and Menk for the airport runway preservation, crack repair and sealcoat project was approved, not to exceed $47,000. County Engineer Ron Gregg explained this amount will be added to the actual cost of the work. After state and federal funding, the county’s contribution is expected to be about $14,000.
The low bid from Scott Construction in the amount of $399,288.99 was approved for 2017 sealcoat projects. Bakke noted this amount is under the engineer’s estimate.
Six bidders placed bids to replace two culverts on CR 117. The pipe will be installed by Midwest Contractors at a cost of $120,428. This is also below the engineer’s estimate.
• Approval was given for the State of Minnesota Annual County Boat and Water Safety Grant agreement in the amount of $3,057 for 2017.
• A resolution to apply for an educational grant from Winneshiek County Solid Waste Agency was approved. This is an annual application.
• Approval was given to replace Information Systems switches for four buildings at a cost of $67,654.43. Vickerman noted that half of the switches will be replaced this year and the other half next year.