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October 18, 2017

Audit bill already paid


photo by Caleb Helm

CONTAINS UPDATES AS OF 3:30 pm, Tuesday
A School Board action Monday night to pause on paying a bill for the state audit turns out to be a moot issue. Board President Matt Mohr asked his board to set aside the $27,057.85 invoice until a legal question could be answered about it. But the check cleared the bank and went in the State Auditor’s coffers as of December 1.

The $27,057 bill for the audit appeared in the Expenditure Analysis and in the payment register of bills already paid in the December meeting packet, but apparently the board treated this State Audit invoice as an encumbrance. The State Auditor’s office alerted The Luther Register  to the payment as of December 1, 2016, after a routine inquiry to the office this morning about the issue after last night’s meeting.

Dr. Buxton is checking records of when the board approved the payment for the State Audit bill. If it was at the October meeting, that agenda packet did not include the consent docket items, as is routine, for the public to view. The invoice did not appear in the online packet for the November meeting, according to Luther Register’s research. Nor is it clear what the consequence is for the invoice being paid without board approval. UPDATE: From Dr. Buxton, “We did an approval for $45,000 in the October meeting. This was an estimate of what the audit would cost.  We paid as a result of the vote of the board to approve.  This is how the bills were paid and did not realize at that time of approval that a question of how it would be paid was being considered.”

Dr. Buxton said this payment and the subsequent confusion reflects the district’s change to better accounting controls and methods. He acknowledges it is a work in progress.

At Monday night’s meeting, Mohr asked the board to agree with him to hold payment on the invoice.

“I have one request that we take payment #586 off of the Consent Agenda and pick that up in a separate vote. And that is the payment $27,057.85 to the State Auditor. So we’ll go through the consent agenda and then we’ll take that up as a separate vote.

“In regards to payment #586 to State Auditor, there was a request made to our legal counsel seeking some clarification on that. Some different payment methods. We have not received that clarification back from legal counsel. Without that, it’s a little premature to pay that specific bill. I make a motion we table payment 586 until we get clarification before the next meeting.”

Board member Sherri Anderson seconded the motion to pull the audit bill. Ray Stanfield voted yes with Mohr and Anderson, but Steve Broudy and Charles DeFuria voted no.

No word on what the question was to the legal counsel.

State Auditor and Inspector’s Office official Trey Davis said the Luther school’s account shows a zero balance for work billed from August – October. Another bill is, however, expected for work from November – January. The audit is expected to be released in January, he said.

The audit was requested a year ago via a citizen’s petition on various concerns regarding financial management of the district. 

Just last night, Superintendent Buxton resigned from his position effective in June 2017. He did not cite any of the audit concerns in his resignation letter. 

State law regarding payments and process for such an audit is clear. The audit is expected to be released in January.

74 O.S. § 212(L)(7) PETITION AUDITS

 

  1. The cost of the audit shall be borne by the public entity audited. Upon notification by the State Auditor and Inspector of receipt of the petition, certified by the county election board as having the required number of signatures, the public entity shall encumber funds in an amount specified by the State Auditor and Inspector, which shall be within the range of anticipated cost stated on the petition from any funds not otherwise specifically appropriated or allocated. Payment for the audit from such encumbered funds shall be made as work progresses, and final payment shall be made on or before its publication.

 

74 O.S. § 212(M) PENALTIES FOR NONPAYMENT

 

Except as otherwise provided by law, the cost of any services provided by the State Auditor and Inspector or as specified in an audit contract shall be borne by the entity or fund audited and shall be due and payable upon receipt of progress billing during the course of an audit. Any such costs not paid within ninety (90) days of the date of receipt of billing shall incur a penalty of Ten Dollars ($10.00) per day for each day from the date of receipt of billing.

 

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