Elkins Receives Clean Bill of Financial Health on 2020 Audit
City Has Received “Unmodified” Audit Opinions Every Year Since 2012
Elkins W. Va., February 19, 2021: At last night’s council meeting, Elkins Treasurer Tracy Judy reported that the city received a clean bill of financial health on its annual audit. State law requires West Virginia cities to undergo yearly audits. This audit, which examined financial records from the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020, was performed by accountants working for BHM CPA Group, an Ohio-based public accounting firm with offices in Huntington, West Virginia.
The purpose of a municipal audit is to verify the city’s financial position as described on its annual financial statements. Auditors determine the accuracy of these statements by reviewing the city’s accounting procedures and examining financial records related to revenues and expenditures, grant administration, bank accounts, and more. Auditors also evaluate the city’s fraud-prevention safeguards and compliance with state law and government accounting standards.
Judy reported that auditors gave the city high marks.
“We received our ninth unmodified opinion in a row,” she said. “That means the auditors didn’t find any discrepancies or areas of concern.”
Sometimes also referred to as an “unqualified” or “clean” opinion, an unmodified opinion is the best result an audit can return because it indicates that auditors have found no misrepresentations of fact or failures to follow appropriate accounting standards. As Judy mentioned, Elkins has received unmodified opinions in each of its annual audits since the fiscal year ending in 2012.
The audit process begins each summer with a letter from the state auditor authorizing the procurement of an audit and providing a list of approved accounting firms. The city’s Audit Committee then solicits and evaluates proposals from at least three firms on this list. The evaluation process uses a score sheet published by the state auditor to assign points to the firms that submit proposals. Per the state auditor, the firm with the highest score must then be selected to perform the city’s audit.
Next, the selected firm receives the city’s financial statements, which are published each fall. The firm examines these statements carefully and uses them to devise an audit plan, including questions to be answered and tests to be performed.
Some of these questions are answered through correspondence and phone calls. Then, usually in January, the firm sends a team of accountants to visit city hall. Over the course of about a week, these accountants request records and interview staff members. One of this team’s tasks is the random sampling of transactions from the year under review, to ensure that the proper authorization, execution, and accounting records can be produced on demand.
Several weeks after this on-site visit concludes, the firm transmits the results of the audit to council.
“Receiving an unmodified opinion confirms that our daily procedures are correct, which is important for both councilors and the public to know,” says Judy. “I’m proud of the hard, careful work my team puts into safeguarding public funds.”
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