City about to break its audit backlog

By Bobby Bryant, Editor,

In January, the office of state Treasurer Curtis Loftis called out Darlington – and several other Pee Dee towns – for running late on their annual audits.

Loftis’ office noted that Darlington officials still had not filed their audit for fiscal year 2017, and asked, in effect, “What’s the hold-up?”

The hold-up was a logjam created a couple of years earlier when the city’s original auditing firm, Hill and Jordan, lost some crucial employees who had been handling Darlington’s audit at the time, said City Manager Howard Garland. That resulted in a series of frustrating delays and the hiring of another firm, WebsterRogers, then the hiring of a third firm, the Brittingham Group.

Last Tuesday night, Darlington City Council got some welcome news: The audit backlog is almost resolved, and the city should be caught up on audits by the end of this year.

“The city’s on track now with the state treasurer’s office,” Bill Hancock of the Brittingham Group told council Sept. 3. “We are scheduled to do the field work for the (fiscal) 2019 audit the first two weeks of October and plan on presenting that report to you in December.”

“Why is that important?” he asked. “Well, you folks haven’t had audited information to look back on in order to do your budget for the upcoming year in several years. I would like for when you do your fiscal year ’20-21 budget to have actual figures for fiscal year ’19 so you can at least look back on something that actually happened when you’re making your decisions on how to allocate your resources.”

“You will have (your audits) caught up by the end of this calendar year,” Hancock told council.

“Compared to the last firm, a breath of fresh air,” Garland said of Brittingham. “They’re professional. They don’t make excuses. They answer your phone calls. They respond to your e-mails.”

Hancock also gave council his company’s completed audit of the city for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

In other business last week:

— Council gave a final OK to a “cost-recovery” plan designed to hold at-fault drivers and their insurance companies, rather than the city Fire Department, responsible for any costs incurred when the city responds to vehicle accidents.

— Council gave final approval to a plan that will set up fines for individuals and companies whose automated alarm systems frequently signal a false fire alarm. Last month, Darlington Public Safety Director Kelvin Washington and Fire Chief Pat Cavanaugh reported to council that in a recent seven-day period, the city received nine false alarms from one business.

Author: Rachel Howell

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