Meadville Tribune

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September 10, 2013

Audit: County has millions to distribute

MEADVILLE — While there are no major deficiencies with Crawford County’s finances following an audit, several million dollars are available to be distributed to other areas throughout the county.

The comprehensive 2012 audit found the county has approximately $5 million in its workers’ compensation insurance fund, an amount the county’s risk management adviser told county officials could be lowered substantially. The specific amount the commissioners are looking to reduce the workers’ compensation fund to has yet to be decided, Chairman Francis Weiderspahn Jr. said. Where the money could be moved to should be determined in the next few months.

Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage for an employee who has suffered an injury or illness resulting from job-related duties.

Weiderspahn said Mari Murphy of Risk Management Resources of Carnegie, the county’s risk management adviser, recommends that based on its claim history Crawford County needs to have about $500,000 to $600,000 in its workers compensation fund.

“The way I understand it, those (excess dollars) may be unrestricted funds that we can move into a capital improvement fund or a maintenance fund,” Weiderspahn said. “We’re looking at our options.”

This year marks the first time in a number of years that the county’s comprehensive, or single, audit of all its finances has been completed by Sept. 30. The county’s audit is done on a calendar year basis and is required to be filed with the state by Sept. 30 of the following year.

“We’re glad there were no significant findings,” Weiderspahn said.

An audit with no major deficiencies is a far cry from Crawford County’s position just two years ago. In 2011, Crawford County was struggling to comply with state law and file three years of overdue audits since audits of the county’s Human Services Department had not been completed by the required time.

The then-board of county commissioners did not publicly acknowledge the audit problem until the Tribune discovered it and reported on it in July 2010. The Tribune found the Human Services Department hadn’t completed its required departmental audits for fiscal years 2006-07, 2007-08 or 2008-09.

Because the Human Services audits weren’t complete, the county wasn’t able to complete its state-required annual audits for 2007, 2008 and 2009 on time.

State law requires an annual audit of the Human Services Department, which receives most of its money from the state and federal governments. The audits are required to ensure taxpayer money is fully accounted for and used as designated. That audit is then included in the annual audit of the county, which also is required by state law for the same reason.

Jody Marley, the county’s chief financial officer, told commissioners Weiderspahn, Jack Lynch and C. Sherman Allen at their weekly work session that the 2012 single audit by MaherDuessel went well.

“There were some findings, but no major ones,” said Marley, who was hired as the county’s chief financial officer in summer 2012.

Marley said the county already has taken steps to correct the findings revealed in the audit, including better internal controls in financial reporting; and a process to ensure all timesheets are reviewed and approved prior to payroll being processed.

Commissioners attributed the growth in the workers’ compensation fund due to a lack of information being shared among county departments, according to the current board. Until last year, the county’s chief financial officer also served as the human resources director. The current board of commissioners separated those duties and hired a full-time human resources director.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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