The Tahlequah Public Works Authority Board of Trustees, during an April 16 meeting, accepted from Arledge & Associates the fiscal year 2020 audit report - and the tardiness generated some comments from the public.

LaDonna Sinning, Arledge & Associates partner, told the board they struggled to get through the process.

"There was a multitude of reasons for that, and it's later than usual. We don't expect that to be a continuing problem," said Sinning. "Through pandemic issues and issues with our stuff that we struggled with and trying to get through that was just a little bit of a difficult year."

According to the auditor's report, the Arledge & Associates team believes the financial statements were presented fairly.

"It is a clean opinion, as has been the case with Tahlequah Public Works Authority for some time, [and] your financial statements follow that," said Sinning.

As for the report by Government Auditing Standards, for which Arledge & Associates does not list its opinion, there was one finding issued.

"We did make some recommendations [and] we had some adjusting entries. I think your management is working through those and I expect those to be corrected," said Sinning. "We will work with them through the summer to get that cleared up."

According to the report, TPWA was not accurately recording and reviewing capital assets between subledger and general ledger, and that finding was not corrected.

"The Authority did not maintain appropriate oversight of internal controls to prevent erroneous financial reporting. The Authority had several restatements that impacted beginning balances, as well as adjusting entries applicable to the current year," the report stated.

Those errors were related to unbilled accounts receivable, accumulated depreciation and fixed assets, cash, and internal transfers.

"Accumulated depreciation and fixed assets - those are also things that are accounted for somewhat differently than what they are in your day-to-day [operations]. That gets adjusted and this is typical for governmental entities," said Sinning.

When asked if she believed the finding indicated an intentional wrongdoing on TPWA's part, Sinning said there were "possible communication issues" between systems.

'I don't feel like there was any intent to misstate anything. I think there were some errors that got corrected, to some extent. It's unfortunate that we didn't catch that a year ago [and] when it does get caught, it gets corrected and that's what happens," said Sinning.

The recommendation states that management should evaluate internal controls related to financial reporting.

"Unbilled accounts receivable -- you don't book those per se, but with the audit, they have to be approved and accumulated. There was an error found that had to do with prior year unbilled accounts receivable that was caught this year and got corrected. That has to do with the spreadsheet that's put together to accumulate those," she said.

The management response to the findings states TPWA acknowledged a weakness exists, and officials have identified members of the staff who will periodically inspect the capital assets register, and the depreciation assets.

"The Authority also recognizes that the weakness stems from a combination of communication issues within our software and our staff in confirming the capital assets and the proper procedures for capturing the capital assets, as well as ensuring the proper depreciation of certain assets," the response stated.

Trustee Bree Long made a motion to accept the audit, while Vice Chair Mark Gish seconded.

Tahlequah City Council will acknowledge receipt of the audit during a Monday, April 19 meeting.

The board gave its nod to an invoice to HUB Engineers for services for the Teehee Plant Rehabilitation, totaling $10,843.

Board members approved a disbursement request for reimbursement of expenses Teehee Water Treatment Plant completion contract, inspection services, and construction phase services that totaled $161,815.

A disbursement request of $336,503 for wastewater treatment plant construction, engineering, and testing/completion contract was approved.

What's next

The next TPWA board meeting is on May 21 at 9:05 a.m. in the Board Room at the Utilities Office, 710 W. Choctaw St.

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