Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/941521

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 24, 2014

Checking the books

Audit uncovers no major improprieties
By Andy Hallman | Dec 26, 2012

BRIGHTON — The City of Brighton received its audit from the State Auditor’s Office earlier this month, which uncovered no major improprieties.
Brighton requested the audit to coincide with the departure of longtime city clerk Linda Burger, who had been the clerk for more than 25 years. Brighton City Clerk Chris Davies said the city did not suspect the auditor would find any wrong-doing. He said the city simply wanted Burger to leave with a clean slate and for him to enter with a clean slate.
Davies began working as the deputy clerk in January. Burger had announced her resignation in 2011 and wanted the council to have plenty of time to hire and train a replacement. For the first six months of 2012, Davies trained under Burger, until her departure on June 28.
The state’s audit was for the fiscal year 2011-2012, which started July 1, 2011, and ended June 30, 2012. Davies was intimately involved in the audit, even though it was for a time period during which he was not the city clerk.
A team of employees from the state auditor’s office visited Brighton in August and stayed there for a week. They went over the city’s records and asked Davies why the city did what it did when accounting for revenue and expenses.
“They always give you a few recommendations,” Davies said. “Some of them were just changes to terminology. Sometimes it was as simple as making sure all of our software is password-protected.”
“We get a list ahead of time of reports they want to review,” Davis said. “We send it to them electronically. They’d ask about policies or procedures we have.”
After the state employees left Brighton, they continued to ask Davies questions via phone calls or e-mails.
“They would say, ‘We’re seeing this particular fund was handled this way. Why did you handle it this way?’” he said. “Then they would say, ‘That’s fine, but we’d like you to do it a different way.’ It was a great learning experience.”
When the city sent out bids for the audit, it received bids from the state and private CPA firms. Davies said the state’s bid was not the lowest but the city wanted the state to perform the audit so the state could be easily consulted on Brighton’s books later in the year.
Davies is not alone in the Brighton City Hall. Deputy City Clerk Teresa Sladek was hired in April, so for a few months the city had three employees.
Davies lives on a farm just outside of Brighton and has been involved in the community for many years. He once worked for a bank in town and was a volunteer firefighter for 30 years.
He worked on the fire department’s budget many times over the years, and he was pretty familiar with city hall. Even still, he knew he would go through a large learning curve upon taking the job as the city clerk.  
“Preparing the budget for next year is still a work in progress,” he said. “There are a lot of good resources out there for me, such as city clerks in other towns.”

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