County#039;s finance audit completed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 29, 2002

The Minnesota State Auditor has concluded its audit of Mower County financial records.

An exit interview has been held and the county is awaiting the auditor's report.

Craig Oscarson, county coordinator, reported on the state auditor's office's visit and inspection of county finances at Tuesday's regular meeting of the Mower County Board of Commissioners.

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The audit was completed of the county's financial records for 2001 and fiscal 2002 is coming to an end, which means the auditor's report could be two years old when year 2003 arrives.

Oscarson told the county commissioners the auditor's office has accepted more designations of intended uses for the county's $34 million in reserve funds.

Since the office reported four years ago that surplus funds in Mower County were higher than the recommended level, much attention has gone to the reserves.

A long-range strategic planning committee recommended two years ago how the reserves could be spent. Last Wednesday night, the county held a public meeting to share information from Darwin Viker, an accountant with the firm of Larson, Allen, Weishair & Co. on the county's finances.

While the auditor's office has recognized the county's designation of future projects in the amount of $3 million -- a huge increase from the $60,000 in future projects listed four years ago -- the auditor's office does not recognize another $4 million in anticipated future projects planned by the county commissioners.

Oscarson said the accounting changes will cause "drastic changes" in the reporting of county finances by the year 2003 when they will be implemented.

Len Miller, 4th district, said the changes were another "unfunded state mandate."

The auditor's office audit of county financial records differs from the LAWCO examination in that it is a legitimate audit and the LAWCO examination was done at the insistence of the county commissioners to study the county's "financial health" prior to the year-ending budget and property tax levy Truth In Taxation hearing.

In other action, the county commissioners;

-- Approved cost-share expenditures of $3,275 for the Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District for projects benefiting Walter Felty and Rodney Chapek. State money for the projects has been exhausted and local funds must be used.

-- Accepted a letter of understanding with LELS, Inc. Local No. 174 on shift hour clarification. There is no economic impact on the employer (Mower County).

-- Delayed a decision on a new agreement with Austin Medical Center, concerning medial treatment for prisoners in the Mower County Jail.. More study is needed.

-- Approved final payment to Fox Electric on Crane Pavilion project in the amount of $3,460. Richard P. Cummings, 1st District, observed more compliments continue to surface about the renovation of the historic livestock exhibition building which were seen fro the first time at the 2002 Mower County Fair.

-- Approved a contract with KKE Architects, Inc. for a jail study. The firm will receive an estimated $43,000 to perform the study which includes a needs assessment and cost-benefit analysis.

-- Approved a contract with Zenk, Read, Trygstad, Inc. to design the new multi-purpose buildings around Crane Pavilion at the fairgrounds.

-- Acknowledged invitation to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 12, meeting of Mower County Township Association meeting at Elkton Community Center and another invitation to the Sept. 7, celebration of reaching a financial goal at the Paramount Theatre. Mower County is a financial benefactor of the restoration project. Both the county and the city of Austin donated $50,000 to the restoration.

-- Referred request for $1.1 million to assist in privately-funded Wescott Athletic Field renovation project for Austin Public Schools to finances committee for a recommendation.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at