Los Alamos County Chief Financial Officer Helen Perraglio
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
An independent audit conducted for the Los Alamos County FY2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report delivered some good news to Council.
Janet Pacheco Morton of Morton Accounting Services presented the audit findings at the council meeting Tuesday night, and County Deputy CFO Melissa Meyer presented financial highlights for the FY2019 CAFR. Council unanimously accepted the report.
Pacheco Morton said the audit issued a clean opinion for the County’s financial statements as well as a clean opinion for the federal expenditures. This is the best rating that can be given.
“So, congratulations on that,” she said.
Some findings were noted but Pacheco Morton said prior year findings were not repeated. She reported that these findings, which were in internal controls over payroll disbursements and internal controls over procurement were cleared.
Pacheco Morton said a new finding in internal controls over payroll disbursements was made. Because payroll is such a large expenditure, she said the auditors do a significant amount of testing on it. This year, she said reconciliation of check stubs and W2 forms were tested.
The auditors found that inaccurate times were initially reported on time sheets, specifically in the Los Alamos Police Department where a large volume of adjustments after time had been certified did occur. These inaccuracies were corrected by the County. She said these errors were caused both by the system and the users. The County recently implemented a new operating system, MUNIS.
Pacheco Morton added that the percentage of errors made at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2019 versus the end of the fiscal year decreased dramatically.
Councilor Pete Sheehey asked how the County’s implementation of the new operating system compared to other municipalities that had gone through a similar process.
Morton Pacheco said that the implementation of such a large ERP was better than that compared to the State Share system, and the results of the audit spoke well for the County.
She said the report had been submitted to the State Auditor’s Office and the state has officially released it.
County Chief Financial Officer Helen Perraglio told the Los Alamos Daily Post, “The County has maintained very high standards in accounting and reporting and is used to receiving results of this nature, but this year was a true testament to all of the hard work and efforts put forth to compile the CAFR on a brand new system that we built from the ground up.”
Perraglio said with the implementation of MUNIS, the County committed to going paperless in many key areas, which required significant efforts in the design of electronic workflows, and the development of standard operating procedures that had never been done before.
Perraglio added that she is sincerely appreciative and proud of the County team that worked so many excessive hours to build, test, convert and now have an unmodified opinion with minimal findings issued.
“Given the results of this audit, we feel assured that we have built strong controls and can now say that our MUNIS implementation was truly a success, even though we will continue to have certain challenges we are working diligently to overcome,” she said.
Councilor Antonio Maggiore commended County employees for their work.
“A huge debt of gratitude is owed to all our fine County employees – County-wide – but especially to our County Finance Department …,” Maggiore said.
Councilor David Izraelevitz pointed out that the audit plays a significant role in the County.
“Although this sounds like a very dry subject … it turns into real money because it effects our bond ratings,” Izraelevitz said. “So this diligence and care about accounting issues and processes then turns into better bond ratings and less costs to our citizens.”