Commentary

JUDGE’S COMMENTS

Auditor’s role big one in county government
David Barkemeyer

A t the Aug. 12 Commissioner’s Court meeting, Danica Lara made a presentation on the functions of the county auditor.

Danica has prepared a summary of her presentation which is also posted on our website at www.milamcounty.net so those of you that cannot attend our meetings can have access to these presentations as well.

At our next meeting on Aug. 26 Donna Orsag, county treasurer will talk about the treasurer function.

Danica emphasized that she and Donna serve as a check and balance on each other in a sense in that Donna takes in the money that the various county departments collect (taxes, fines, fees and so on) and deposits them in the appropriate accounts, and Danica)receives all the bills from all the departments and authorizes their payment from the appropriate account after the approval of commissioners court.

In other words Donna sees after collecting the money and Danica sees after spending the money.

Probably the most important responsibility of the auditor is that she, as chief fiscal officer of the county. is by law responsible for seeing that all county officials comply with state laws governing county finances.

Danica determines the accounting system that the county will use and is responsible for all county accounting and financial records a nd r eports. S he p rovides us with all our financial reports each month. She reports to John Youngblood, the district judge, and as such acts independently of the county judge and commissioners court, although she cannot pay a bill without our approval. So, in that sense, the auditor and commissioners court act as a check and balance on each other in that we cannot pay a bill without her approval as well, and she can call our hand on a financial or accounting matter that she deems to be in violation of the Local Government Code or other state law governing the matter.

She also assists me, the county judge as chief budget officer of the county in preparing the budget each year.

She conducts internal audits of all departments as needed and oversees the external audit each year.

Danica pointed out that the county’s external audit firm of Patillo, Brown, and Hill is in the process of performing the financial audit for fiscal 2012 at this time, having done most of the field work in June and is required to provide the results to the county by Sept. 30.

When we were refinancing our bonds this past year we learned that our bond rating had dropped to BBB which is not good. One of the criticisms was that we are on a cash basis system of accounting.

We realized that one of the things that we were going to have to do before we were going to ever get our bond rating back up was to convert back to the accrual method.

We were going to do that starting in 2014. However, Danica and I have come to the decision to wait another year before undertaking this task, primarily due to the budget constraints we are currently under such as the capital murder and Luminant issues.

She reported that there are significant costs associated with converting to full accrual estimated to be at least $30,000 which need to be delayed.

These costs include hiring an outside firm to perform an actuarial study for the county’s post employment benefits.

The annual external audit will also be more expensive due to a lengthier audit time period being required.

This method will require more personnel time as well. Danica estimates that it will take at least one part time clerk along with software upgrades throughout all departments.

There are a host of other duties and responsibilities that our auditor Danica Lara assumes for us in Milam County which you can read about in her report on ourwebsite. I amveryappreciative of the excellent service she provides, and the commissioners were quick to echo my praise. dbarkemeyer@milamcounty.net


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2013-08-22 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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