PUD Receives Clean Audits on Finance, Accountability

 Jefferson County PUD Receives 2nd Clean Audit in 2 years, Accountability Improved

At a Special Meeting with State Auditors on Monday January 8th, Jefferson County Public Utility District No. 1 received a clean audit for the second year running. Lead Auditor Kendra Huson, Audit Supervisor Amy Strzalka, and Audit Manager Carol Ehlinger of the Washington State Auditor’s Office issued “unmodified opinions” on the PUD’s 2016 financial statement audit and its 2-year (2015-16) accountability audit.

At the close of the meeting, District 1 Commissioner and 2018 BOC President Jeff Randall thanked both staff and the auditors for their hard work to complete the audit, which involved auditors onsite at the PUD for more than one month. Assistant General Manager Kevin Streett also praised staff for the improvements made and credited interim CFO Tammy Lehman, now on her second stint with the PUD, for the turnaround.

In 2016, just prior to Lehman’s arrival, the PUD had received the third of three difficult audits in a row. Auditor Strzalka noted in the meeting on the 8th that the “prior period audit reports financial statement findings for the 2012-2014 audits showed that the district’s internal controls were not adequate to ensure accurate and complete financial reporting,” but that, “this year that status is fully corrected.”

“Transitioning from a ~5000 customer, 8 employee water and sewer district into the 19,000 customer, 50 employee operation has not been without its challenges,” said Streett who was hired in late 2012 and helped oversee the buildup and management of the PUD’s electrical division, “Staff turnover, especially among CFOs, has been tough. But we keep changing, and improving, and I’m proud of where we’ve come to today.”

Streett also credits the PUD Board for taking seriously the findings of prior audits and bringing in accounting firm Moss Adams to help provide additional oversight to the district. “There were concerns at the time about the expense of the additional oversight, but we can see today that it was money well spent,” said Wayne King, District 3 commissioner, who had made the original motion to hire the firm in 2016.

In the draft report presented to the PUD, the State Audit team offered up a list of further improvements the district could make, but Auditor Strzalka noted that there were no material misstatements made by management. Huson also thanked the PUD for their “hard work and responsiveness throughout the audit” The full audit report will be available at http://portal.sao.wa.gov/ReportSearch.