The Woodward News

February 17, 2013

Fort Supply takes another step to clear up finances

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — FORT SUPPLY--Fort Supply's town accountant now has a plan for how she will "dig deeper" into some noncompliance issues revealed during a recent audit.

During the Fort Supply Town Board of Trustees regular monthly meeting on Feb. 5, the board asked accountant Meredith Meacham-Wilson to take a more in-depth look at the findings from a FY 2011 audit that was recently completed by CPA William K. Gauer.

Gauer's findings included issues with deposits not being put into the proper fund, utility billings not being properly booked or tracked, the town's cash balances were down from prior years, and the town is facing unpaid bills.

The trustees asked Meacham-Wilson to investigate the findings to try to determine how these issues arose and what could be done to fix the problems and keep the town out of future financial troubles.

However, wanting it "outlined in black and white," Meacham-Wilson requested time to draft a proposal listing what the extent of her investigation should be.

She sent the proposal to the town office earlier this week and the Fort Supply trustees scheduled a special meeting on Friday to act on the proposed investigation procedures.

Having reviewed the proposal prior to the meeting, the trustees quickly and unanimously approved a list of 13 investigation procedures which Meacham-Wilson will now undertake.  Friday's special meeting was completed in less than 10 minutes.

The approved investigation procedures include reviewing deposits for a selection of utility accounts and tracing those deposit amounts to bank statements in order to address the issue of deposits not being made to the proper fund.

As for utility bills not being properly booked, investigation procedures include comparing revenues and payments from the utility system to revenues and collections recorded in the general ledger month by month.  Another procedure for the utility billing investigation is to review outstanding accounts from the audit period, which was the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2011, so that the past due accounts can be sent for collection.

Then to investigate the decrease in cash balances and the town's unpaid bills, Meacham-Wilson's procedures include reviewing payments made, as listed on the town's bank account, to supporting invoices and ensure items were used as part of the town's operating activities.

In a brief interview with The News following Friday's brief special meeting, Fort Supply Mayor Mike Lowden said the purpose of the investigation isn't to place blame.

"No, this is strictly recommendations for processes to clear up issues found in the previous audit from Mr. Gauer," Lowden said.

He said Meacham-Wilson's investigation "will allow us to identify what problems we have and provide recommendations on repairing them so we don't fall back in the same situation," regarding the financial and clerical issues revealed in the audit.

Trustee Donald Pettey agreed that the purpose of the investigation "is basically how can we fix it and not get in the same place."

"It's not an enjoyable process by any means," Lowden said of the investigation, but noted, "I feel it's necessary to keep us on the right track."