Fort Mill earns praise after annual audit

The Town of Fort Mill is handling its business, according to a group conducting the town’s annual audit.

Conducted by Greene, Finney & Horton of Mauldin, the audit gave the town an “unqualified opinion,” the best opinion the town can receive, Town Manager David Hudspeth said.

“That means we did everything right,” Hudspeth said. “The way we do our accounting is accurate.”

The firm reviewed all town reports from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010, Hudspeth said. The firm completed its audit mid-February, and presented the unqualified opinion to the Fort Mill Town Council during a Feb. 28 meeting.

“We’ve always had unqualified audits,” Hudspeth said. “In fact, if you get a qualified audit, that’s not good.”

Finance Director Chantay Bouler was pleased with the audit results.

“I am overjoyed that the Town received the best opinion that it could receive, the unqualified opinion. This is what we work towards,” Bouler wrote last week in a memo. “This opinion comes as a result of the policies, procedures and practices that have been established.”

At a time when funding is limited and revenues can often top expenses, the Town of Fort Mill showed a revenue gain of about $470,000, according to the audit and Bouler, putting the town’s total fund balance at $2.8 million.

The town’s operating budget was $7.4 million, Bouler said.

During the 2008- 09 fiscal year, the town had a slight loss of $53,400, Bouler said.

“We had a surplus in the general fund, which is unusual in this economy,” Hudspeth said. “It wasn’t a lot of money, but it’s much better than having any kind of deficit.”

Though the Town received a top review and turned a surplus, auditors found at least one fault, Bouler and Hudspeth said.

“The main comment they gave us is that we don’t prepare our own financial statements that are in the audit,” Hudspeth said. “We just don’t have the staff. By accounting standards, we should be preparing that on our own. The reality is that’s a very expensive thing to do.”

Adding staff to do the work wouldn’t be cost effective, Hudspeth said.

“We probably pay them (the audit firm) $10,000 to do that for us,” Hudspeth said. “It’s not worth $90,000 to $100,000 to get rid of that.”

The town’s general operating budget makes allowances for that $10,000 and other audit-related expenses, Bouler said. Bringing a CPA on board could run about $90,000 to $100,000 at a minimum, she said.

“It’s simply not worth the cost for us to do that,” Hudspeth said.

“What we do, we pay them (the audit firm) to do that for us. That’s much cheaper than having a CPA on staff.”

Credit for the successful audit, Bouler said, belongs in part to the staff.

“I want to commend our staff for the work that they do,” she said.

“That’s a lot of the reason why we are able to accurately account for our funds.”

By Toya Graham, Staff Writer with the Fort Mill Times