Tooele County is hoping the state will soon release around $100,000 in state revenue that has been withheld from the county because the county’s annual independent audit report was late.
The state auditor received a copy of Tooele County’s comprehensive annual financial report on Tuesday afternoon — four months after the report was due.
The state auditor is now waiting for the county’s financial certification before the withheld funds can be released, according to Utah State Auditor John Dougall.
“We received the Tooele County CAFR [comprehensive annual financial report] today [Nov. 6] but we have not yet received their financial certification,” Dougall said. “As such, the funds should still be held.”
The financial certification is a form signed by the county’s chief administrative officer and chief financial officer — usually the county commission chairman and the county auditor.
State code requires counties to submit a copy of their independent audit report to the state auditor within six months of the end of the year.
Tooele County’s audit report wasn’t ready by the end of June.
“We couldn’t send our audit to the state because we didn’t receive the audit from our auditors on time,” said commission chairman Wade Bitner. “We hired a new firm this year. They started late. They asked us for a lot of information our other auditors never asked for and we gathered it and gave it to them. They emailed the report to the state today [Nov. 6].”
Once a county is late in submitting its annual audit, the state auditor provides the county with a 60-day notice of the delinquency, which allows for a formal period of remediation, according to Dougall.
If after 60 days the deficiency in reporting has not been corrected, the state withholds state disbursements such as property tax and sales tax revenue from the county, according to Dougall.
On Monday, Dougall reported that the state had been withholding revenue from Tooele County because the audit report had not been received.
“It is my understanding that we have been withholding tax revenue from Tooele County for that delinquency,” Dougall said. “As of today [Nov. 5], we have not yet received their annual report.”
The state has been withholding revenue for the past two months. The withheld revenue totals around $100,000, according to Tooele County Treasurer Mike Jensen.
Once the county submits the financial certification and corrects the deficiency, the state will promptly release any held funds, according to Dougall.
Tooele County Clerk/Auditor Marilyn Gillette said in the past the independent auditors usually start work in January.
But the county commission didn’t approve the selection of the accounting firm Eide Bailly, a regional firm with offices in Salt Lake City, to perform the 2017 annual independent audit until its Feb. 20, 2018 meeting, according to minutes from that meeting.
“The firm we selected is an established firm and they were highly recommended by our audit committee,” Bitner said.
Gillette said it was the end of April when the independent auditors started working with her.
The audit report was on the county commission’s agenda for its Oct. 30 meeting, but it was withdrawn because the report wasn’t ready, according to Bitner.
The late audit not only caused funds to be withheld, it it also holding up the county’s 2019 budget process, according to Bitner.
“We need the completed audit with the financial statements for 2017 to help us with the budget process,” he said.
With the CAFR in hand, the financial certification will be on its way to the state auditor as soon as the county commission has a chance to review the audit report, according to Bitner.