Audit reflects positively on city and schools

Published 7:59 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Elizabethton officials were satisfied to learn that the city and city schools’ audits yielded no findings. Nearly every detail was budgeted appropriately, adjusted when necessary and filed correctly.
This news came at the close of a year which, for the city included two major projects: the addition of a payment center at Hatcher Lane and the transition to a new software in the Electric Department.
“I was really happy that all of that happened and we still managed to make sure that everything was being done properly and to have no audit findings,” said Elizabethton Finance Director Deborah Kessler. “It took a lot of people, not just in Accounting, but with cash collections, the Finance Department, and Purchasing to make sure everything was done appropriately.”
The audit finding in the fiscal year 2013-14 was in the Electric Department regarding work orders, said Kessler. In April 2015 the department changed software from what the city currently uses to a software that is more adaptable for its needs, which Kessler said resolved the previous year’s finding.
“A lot of employees put very hard work into taking care of issues that we’ve had in the past, primarily migrations from different software platforms to new ones, which take a lot of time and detail to work on,” said City Manager Jerome Kitchens.
The city schools also made a software transition. They implemented a new program for wage and hour tracking as well as a new system for contacting substitute teachers. Director of Schools Dr. Corey Gardenhour said the two work together and minimize potential error in one of the biggest areas of variability.
“Fiscal responsibility is something we take very seriously and focus on,” said Gardenhour. “Our people rise to the challenge and work together, and that’s when we receive good results.”
The responsibility of accounting for every fiscal detail is a daily effort for all levels of employees in the city and the schools.
“We have extremely competent bookkeepers who take their jobs very seriously,” said Elizabethton Schools Director of Business and Fiscal Management Beth Wilson. “With the amount of transactions that they handle everyday, the board was very well pleased.”
Even with budget amendments, city employees and officials filed everything appropriately. At the end of the year, the operational budget had the recommended amount of unrestricted funds balance.
Sufficient foresight of city employees and the city manager regarding repairs and upgrades were contributors to having the appropriate balance. Kitchens said they aim to have two months’ of operational budget said aside for emergencies, and they have slightly more than that, even with a number of projects underway including radio upgrades, canopy repair, phone upgrades, playground swing replacement, wire repair on traffic signals and others.
“We’re doing good accounting which reflects what’s actually happening,” said Kitchens. “The results of the end of the year are good, and we have a very solid fund balance.”

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