Hartselle BOE considering changing auditing firms
By Deangelo McDaniel
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2469
HARTSELLE — It's unlikely that the state will audit the Hartselle City school system anytime in the near future.
But the school board is considering changing how it selects the firm to audit its school record.
"We have talked about bidding audits," board Chairman Dr. Andrew Dukes revealed during Monday's meeting.
City Councilman Bill Smelser raised the issue of a state audit and the firm auditing the school system.
He wanted know how many years the firm of Wear, Howell, Strickland, Quinn and Law has audited the system.
Anthony Law, who presented the draft audit Monday, said he was not aware of how many years his firm had audited Hartselle. But school records show that Hartselle has used the same firm since the system formed in the mid-1970s.
Unlike in years past, Dr. Dukes allowed the audience to question Law about the audit. This is when Smelser asked Law what a state audit would reveal that his does not.
"My audit is mainly financial," Law said. "The state audit would be more geared towards compliance."
Smelser then asked Law if it would be wise to let another auditing firm take a look at the school system's books.
"Are you making allegations?" school board member Jeff Gray asked.
"No sir," Smelser answered.
Gray then directed questions to Law. He wanted to know how many firms in the area audit school systems.
"More than five, but less than 10," Law said.
In response to another question from Gray, Law said his firm is audited by outside auditors and that no issues have arisen relating to the audit of Hartselle's school system.
As for the audit, Law said there were no findings.
This is not the first time a state audit has been mentioned for Hartselle.
Former school board Chairman Ronnie Abercrombie tried to change this in 2004 when he requested an audit from the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.
This audit would have been different from the audit Law gave the board Monday because it would have told Hartselle if the system was not complying with state and federal laws.
In a Sept. 29, 2004, letter, state Chief Examiner Ron Jones refused to audit the Hartselle school system. "Due to a significant budget reduction, we have no resources available (to audit Hartselle)," Jones wrote.
Abercrombie said he feels more strongly today about the system needing a state audit because Hartselle has changed superintendents and custodian of funds since 2004.
"The state should look at every school system at least once every five years," he said.
Abercrombie started pushing for the state audit after attending a conference with the
Alabama director of finance in 2003.
"He highly recommended not using the same auditing firm for more than three years," he said.
"An audit is an opinion about how you are doing this financially, and the opinion doesn't need to be coming from the same auditing firm year after year."
Unlike the school system, the City Council has changed auditing firms since Hartselle went to a city school system.
The late Fred Phillips audited the city, and after his death, the council employed Tucker, Scott and Wates to audit city records.
Mayor Dwight Tanksersley said he will ask the council to change auditing firms next year.
"It's not that we're not happy with the current firm, but we need a different set of eyes looking at our books," he said.
The school system's and Hartselle Utilities' audits are component units of the city's audit because HU grants run through city records and the council makes bond payments for the school board.
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