Audit offers advice

School district to implement some ideas

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— The auditing firm hired to conduct the 2007 fiscal year assessment of the Steamboat Springs School District recommended eight changes to be made by the district's finance department.

Dale Mellor, the district's director of finance, said many of the suggestions will be enacted, but a few of the recommendations simply cannot be met.

The recommendations Mellor said he and district staff soon will put into effect include changing the combination of the Strawberry Park Elementary School safe; monitoring of gate admissions, fees and fundraisers; and implementing a voucher system to pay referees to prevent potential false payments.

Auditors from the Englewood accounting firm Bondi & Co. also recommended Mellor perform routine reviews of payroll reports to increase internal controls, which he said would be implemented immediately.

The duties Mellor said his department won't be able to meet include implementing procedures to segregate duties involving bank transfers.

"It presumes staffing levels that allow different personnel to perform all the different functions of banking," Mellor said in a report to the Steamboat Springs School Board.

"Over the years, we have segregated duties as much as possible, with the district's accountant performing all bank reconciliations except the general fund, the district's office manager performing deposits (after review by the finance director), and the finance director reconciling the general fund and performing the transfer function."

Mellor said to move any one of these job duties to another person would create new and different segregation issues.

"While this is a good recommendation, and one that shows up almost every year, we simply don't have the staffing to adequately segregate all banking duties," he said.

When Mellor presented the auditor's recommendations to the School Board on Feb. 4, board member Laura Anderson asked why the auditors continue to make recommendations that a small school district such as Steamboat Springs cannot meet.

"Don't they take into account our size and maybe tailor their recommendations for what we can and can't do?" she asked.

Representatives from Bondi & Co. were not available Wednesday.

Auditors also recommended segregating cash collecting and deposit duties, and that bank deposits should be made weekly.

"This is a standard auditor comment. : However, the district does not have the school office staff to adequately segregate all banking functions," Mellor said. "I believe that alternate internal controls are in place, such as the office secretary counting receipts, then giving the receipts to the office manager to deposit."

Mellor said he would work with school bookkeepers to ensure receipts are deposited weekly.

The audit, which was done on financial statements between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007, - the 2007 fiscal year - found no major irregularities.

Interim Superintendent Sandra Smyser said the district's financial statements must be audited yearly in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles for governmental bodies.

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