Auditor: Lack of oversight led to errors in Sultan finances

For a second time, the state auditor’s office urged the city to improve its financial review process.

SULTAN — The city of Sultan is hiring a third party to review its finances after the State Auditor’s Office warned the town it needs to keep better track of its money.

A lack of oversight in Sultan’s finance department led to errors in financial statements, according to the office.

The errors weren’t significant, but it’s the second year in a row an audit called on the city to improve its process for reviewing finances.

In response to a 2019 audit, the city implemented a review process that requires all documentation to be stamped and dated. But an audit published in November found the same issues remain.

“We clearly did not find that they had corrected the problem enough,” said Kathleen Cooper, director of communications at the State Auditor’s Office.

The city’s finance director prepares most financial statements with little to no oversight, according to the audit. Staff were aware of the internal control deficiencies but resistant to changes.

“I think it’s fair to say that this is a finding relating to difficulty in staffing,” Cooper said.

Like in other small towns, Mayor Russell Wiita said employees of Sultan wear many hats.

The Finance Department currently has four employees: a finance director, a deputy treasurer, a utility clerk and a receptionist.

“The financial statement review is something that a lot of small cities face because you have to have staff trained on all aspects of the financial process,” he said. “…With a limited staff, it’s just not something a lot of cities have.”

To remedy that, Sultan is hiring a third-party contractor to review financial statements, Wiita said. The contractor, Lisa Erdman, previously worked on Sultan’s audits for the State Auditor’s Office and was recommended by the city’s current finance director.

Erdman will provide “another set of eyes outside the city to identify ways we could improve statements or processes,” Wiita said. She begins in the next month or so.

The auditor’s office is required to follow up every year until its concerns are addressed, Cooper said.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @sanders_julia.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Carol Rochnowski, of Lake Stevens, enjoyed a socially distanced dinner with her neighbors, Andy and April Taylor, before the weather changed their weekly meals. The neighbors, along with Rochnowski's housemate Bernie Terry, have supported 24 restaurants during the pandemic. (Courtesy Carol Rochnowski)
With weekly take-out, neighbors feeding their friendships

These Lake Stevens families have made it a point to order takeout from an array of restaurants weathering the pandemic.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
$2.2B COVID conversation begins; a road feud may be easing

Here’s what’s happening on Day 15 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

Jacob D. Little
Man accused of taking police gun in riot faces murder charge

Police charged Jacob D. Little, 25, of Everett, with second-degree murder and second-degree assault.

Lynnwood bookkeeper embezzles $230K from security company

Sheryl Rucker pleaded guilty to stealing from her employer, Absco Solutions. She must pay back the money.

A pharmacist prepares a syringe of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle. Pfizer has committed to supply up to 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year to a World Health Organization-backed effort to get affordable vaccines to 92 poor and middle-income countries. The deal announced Friday, Jan. 22 will supply the shots to the program known as COVAX.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Short on doses, county’s drive-thru vaccinations are on pause

Appointments won’t be accepted again until new shipments arrive — next week at the soonest.

More contagious strain of COVID-19 found in Snohomish County

Two residents tested positive, and are the first cases that have been identified in the state.

A little snow could be on its way to the lowlands this week

Two separate systems could bring less than one inch of accumulation to Puget Sound residents.

Dustyn Hunt-Bagby. (Justice for Dustyn Coalition)
2 years later, father charged in death of daughter’s friend

He admits he pulled the trigger. But Charles Heller claims self-defense in fatal shooting of Dustyn Hunt-Bagby.

Man stabbed Sunday in Lynnwood supermarket parking lot dies

The victim was in his early 60s. Detectives are looking for help to identify suspects.

Most Read