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Finance committee seeks audit to fix budget

By Bill Knowles

WALSENBURG- The city’s finance committee met this week with auditors from Watkins and Schommer, Inc. to better define what the firm should accomplish as it audits the city’s books.  The audit is required by the State, and the meeting was requested by the firm.

    The field work for the audit began Monday, June 7, and the CPAs expect to issue their report around mid-July.  A letter to the city council from Watkins and Schommer, Inc. indicates the scope of the audit will include examining the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. 

    The auditors will be seeking to understand the city’s financial environment and to assess the financial statements to determine if there are misstatements.  Misstatements may arise from errors, fraudulent financial reporting, misappropriation of assets or violations of laws or regulations.

    City council members had a chance to ask questions and make comments.  A majority of the council members requested that the auditors consider how the city’s financial statements might be made more concise, clear and reliable.  Council members said that they were not comfortable with the way the reports are formatted.  The formatting has led to confusion about revenues and expenditures in several fund accounts.  And Mayor Bruce Quintana requested an assessment of the qualifications of the city’s finance director.

    Because of the audit, funding of various activities will be delayed until the first council meeting in August.

    Bruce Eccher approached the committee with a billing issue.  His billings show that the Anchor Motel is paying a $35 dollar sewer rate per toilet when the schedule shows that commercial sewer rates should be around $23 per toilet.  The rates are suggested by the bond holder for the proposed water treatment facility and approved by the city council to assure payment on the bond.  Eccher indicated that the rates were onerous and could put his operation in jeopardy.  The other motels, the Sands and the Alpha, are also on city sewer and the finance committee will look into the billings for these establishments as well.