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Oak Park Audit Shows Sloppy Financial Practices

As citizens in the City of Oak Park work to sift through financial issues and the looming possibility of a property tax, city staff and the City Council have been charged with determining which issues still linger from a financial audit report dating back three years that has only recently been made available.

The City of Oak Park is currently two fiscal years behind on their financial audits, a misstep that can become very problematic for local governments due to the fact that flaws and problems are often discovered in the routine audits. If an audit is not conducted in a timely manner, flaws and wrongdoings are advertently and inadvertently carried over into the next fiscal year. Issues detected in a FY 2015 audit, ending the calendar year December 31, 2015, are not shown to council and staff until March 2018, meaning 2016 and 2017 budgets and financial practices are unchecked and possibly carrying the weight of the same problems. It also leaves problems for accountability when issues are found. 

In addition to legal and actual budgetary woes that stem from delayed audits, remaining that far behind on audits also disqualifies the city from receiving certain state and federal grants, a practice that would make more services and resources available for city needs.

The most recent audit was presented at the March City Council meeting by the preparer, Wright & Wright, P.C. of Sandersville, and covers calendar and fiscal year 2015. The full audit is available at the bottom of the article.

In the report, the auditor noted that documentation of governmental accounting principles were not available in the audit. Specifically, page 4 reads, “The City of Oak Park, Georgia has not presented management’s discussion and analysis that government accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America required to be presented to supplement the basic financial statements. Such missing information, although not a part of the basic financials statements, is required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, who considers it to be an essential part of financial reporting for placing the basic financial statements in an appropriate operational, economic, or historical context.”

Highlights from the audit include:

  • The City of Oak Park had $460,435 in assets at the end of 2015
  • Expenses exceeded revenues for government services (streets, public safety, etc) by $90,788
  • Expenses exceeded revenues for business-type activities (water) by $12,841
  • Primary government activities (streets, public safety, water, etc) cost the city $460,435 in 2015.
  • The City had $40,566 in outstanding liabilities – including bonds.
  • The City had $122,600 in assets, leaving a net position of $82,034
  • The City does not have a financial reserve policy, or a minimum balance to carry in the event of an emergency.
  • The City used General Fund money and Water Fund money to pay for SPLOST projects.

The following funds exceeded their budgetary appropriations by the actual expenditures:

  • General government – $25,467
  • Public works – $13,438
  • Public Safety – $290,174
  • Culture & Recreation – $27,012
  • Public works – capital outlay – $3,374
  • Public safety – capital outlay $20,438
  • Debt service – $17,070

Additionally, the City of Oak Park was cited for four specific deficiencies in the audit. Those include:

The conditions below are copied verbatim from the report provided by Wright & Wright P.C.

  • Due to the small size of the City’s staff, controls are not practical to provide adequate segregation of duties in the cash receipts and disbursement functions.
  • City personnel do not currently possess the professional skills necessary to prepare the year end financial statements in sufficient detail to detect material misstatements in the financial statements and related footnotes.
  • Disbursements processed and paid by the City did not always contain appropriate documentation supporting the disbursement, or proper authorization from management approving the disbursement.
  • In the City’s General Fund, actual expenditures exceeded budget appropriations in several departments. That is a violation of state law.

See pages 34-35 of the FY 2015 audit for the complete explanation of deficiencies.

Oak Park Financial Audit - 2015

 

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

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