The Guilford County Board of Commissioners got some good news from April Adams from the accounting firm of Cherry Bekaert LLP at the board’s Thursday, Jan. 20 meeting.
Adams reported that, as far as the audit for fiscal 2020-2021 could discern, county staff had not been cooking the books.
With a couple of minor exceptions, the county got a passing grade of A, which in accounting circles is better known as a “clean” audit.
That’s particularly impressive for Guilford County staff given that, in that fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, loads and loads of previously unseen state and federal COVID-19 relief money was pouring into the county and had to be spent according to the guidelines that accompanied the money.
Adams said the county’s audit came out very well.
“That is the opinion that you want,” Adams said of the clean outcome – adding that the results showed “no deficiency” and demonstrated overall compliance with state and federal guidelines.
Each year, when the audit results are revealed, there are a few minor infractions. This year, one such issue was a failure among Department of Health and Human Services staff to conduct monthly reviews of eligibility requirements in one program.
Adams said the reviews did get done, but not on time every month.
“I’m going to blame it on COVID-19,” Adams said, noting that Guilford County like other local governments had seen staffing issues during the pandemic when many workers were out or were adjusting to work from home.
Another issue included missing documentation in just one of many cases reviewed to assure that eligibility requirements for federal assistance had been met.
At the Jan. 30 meeting Commissioner Kay Cashion, who chairs the Guilford County Audit Committee, praised staff and Cherry Bekaert for working together well, and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston praised Cashion for her leadership of the Audit Committee over the years.
The firm of Cherry Bekaert has been doing the county’s audits since near the start of the century, and, at times over the years, commissioners have pointed out that best practices call for local governments to change up auditors every now and then so the two don’t get too cozy with each other.
While that move to get “fresh eyes” on the county’s books has been proposed by a commissioner from time to time, it never gets any traction because the firm and the county have such a good working relationship.