Banking & Finance and Government

Kent passes financial audit with ease

The independent report comes back ‘very, very clean’ for such a large organization.

July 3, 2015
| By Pete Daly |
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The annual state-mandated independent auditor’s report on Kent County government’s finances is a “voluminous document,” according to Steve Blann of Rehmann Robson LLC, which produced the report comprised of more than 200 pages.

But it’s all good, added Blann, who told county commissioners recently the report contains “the highest level of assurance” that the numbers kept by the county officials are accurate.

Accurate accounting is essential for a government entity with more than $300 million in operations costs, said Blann, especially when the budget includes use of $38 million in federal grants. Compliance with grant requirements actually requires a separate audit.

Blann said, overall, it is “a very, very clean audit for an organization of this size.” It includes five recommendations but uncovered only two minor problem items, neither of which would be considered “material” in the accounting world, according to Blann.

All local governments in Michigan are required to undergo an annual independent auditor’s report, according to Kent County Administrator/Controller Daryl Delabbio.

Blann said there is one new requirement of all government audits beginning this year: a change in the way a government pension plan is reported.

Again, Kent County has nothing to worry about in that regard because it does not have an unfunded pension plan liability.

Blann said the county pension plan is “in a dramatically better position than 95 percent of the governments we work with throughout the state.”

He cautioned that can change, however, due to dramatic shifts in the stock market.

Delabbio told the commission what is really noteworthy about the 2014 auditor’s report is “it was done so quickly. This was the earliest I’ve seen an audit report completed in my 20 years with Kent County, and I would even venture, my 38 years in local government.”

The report goes to the county board before it is forwarded to the state government, and this year it is ahead of schedule.

He said it was all due to the preparation work done by the county’s fiscal services staff, beginning with fiscal services Director Stephen Duarte.

In 19 of the last 20 years, the Kent County audit has received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellent Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.

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