State Auditor's Office Reports 'City's Financial Policies Proven to Be Effective'
The City of Yelm Finance Department continues to make strides in financial transparency and consistency, demonstrated in the clean audit for the fiscal year 2018, issued by the Washington State Auditor’s Office.
Washington has had an independent auditor since its territorial days. In 1889, Washington became a state and enshrined the State Auditor’s Office in the state Constitution, reflecting a continued commitment to making sure public money is spent wisely and in the public interest. From offices across the state, the state’s independent auditors help government work better and maintain public trust.
“We would like to thank the City for the hard work done over the last year to implement prior audit recommendations. The City staff were professional, polite, and created a positive working environment,” the State Auditor’s Office said in the audit exit interview. “Audit requests were addressed in a timely manner, which facilitated an efficient audit process.”
The mission to implement the powerful framework, allowing the City to stiffen internal controls, began in 2017 when the City’s financial policies were not as proficient as they are today.
“Since that time, the City of Yelm has created and enacted formal processes, procedures and policies that establish effective controls over financial statement preparation and the preparation of accurate and complete financial statements,” the State Auditor’s Office said.
In 2017, the City turned the budget from a lengthy software printout into an award winning, comprehensive guiding document, consistent with our mission, vision and values. The City also hired a Senior Accountant, applied secondary review in the Finance Director position, began a program of continuous training, and adopted financial policies that have proven to be effective.
In 2018, the City worked with the State Auditor’s Office to review the accounting data for the fiscal years 2014 to 2017 to identify any inaccuracies, resulting in the full reconciliation with all City banking statements for 2016 and 2017. In addition, the City implemented the first biennial budget for the years 2019-2020, and invested in a new financial management software, which enhances the ability to produce accurate annual financial statements and ensure fund balances accurately reflect cash investment balances.
The improvements continued into 2019 by hiring an Assistant Accountant, moving the front counter staff from the Finance Department into the new and separate Customer Service Department, and created a budget schedule to provide better predictability for future budgets.
Holding to the newly established budget calendar, Finance Director Heidi MacDonald provided a budget update at a Council meeting in October and reported the City is on a sustainable path through the first year of the biennium. Budget amendments were unanimously adopted by City Council at the Dec. 10 Council meeting to account for minor revenue and expenditure adjustments in different areas of the budget through the first year.
Council will review and make amendments to the budget again in March 2020, after the Council convenes for a strategic planning retreat to determine policy priorities and initiatives based on existing community goals.
The full report can be viewed here: