Wellington’s Audit Process Goes Much Smoother This Year

An independent audit of Wellington’s finances was much more successful this year, said auditor Antonio Grau at the Tuesday, March 25 meeting of the Wellington Village Council.

Last year, Grau & Associates slammed village management for making the audit an “uncomfortable” situation, leading to concerns about the way the village was being managed.

But Grau said this year, the process was made easier with the help of management.

“I’d like to thank [Village Manager] Paul [Schofield] and [Director of Finance] Tanya [Quickel] for all the work they did in helping us to get the audit done,” Grau said. “We had constant communication between management. I met personally with Paul, and he helped keep me abreast on everything that was going on. The audit went well. Most of the issues we had in the prior year were resolved.”

Auditor Raquel McIntosh said overall the audit went well.

“We had no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in the current year,” she said. “There were some compliance findings we discovered throughout our audit.”

She noted that Wellington has very low debt and is in a good financial place.

Last year, auditors found issues with Wellington’s utility billing. Councilwoman Anne Gerwig asked if that had been resolved. McIntosh said it had. “Staff started keeping copies of the actual registers,” she said.

Another large concern last year was that some employees had not been enrolled in the Florida Retirement System when they should have been.

“Can you tell us why that happened and what the misunderstanding was?” Gerwig asked.

McIntosh noted that the issue was not technically a finding, but rather a note because management notified the auditing firm at the last minute about the issue, setting the audit report back. “We weren’t told about it until the very end,” McIntosh said.

Grau said the issue was about the timing.

“We were told there was a potential liability unrecorded in the balance sheet related to the village owing money to FRS,” he said. “We don’t look at it any closer than that. We were told about it at the very end of the audit. If we’d had enough time, we could have dug in there to find out more information, but that wasn’t really our place.”

Councilman John Greene asked how Wellington measures up financially to other municipalities.

“The financial condition of the village is excellent,” Grau said. “There is very little debt. We see a lot of entities with tons of debt. You don’t have to be an accountant to figure out that Wellington is doing pretty well financially.”

Greene attributed it to good planning. “We budget for [projects], yet we are mindful of the fact that we need to maintain our reserves,” he said.

Councilman Matt Willhite said he was glad to hear the process had gone well. “I’m very glad to hear you come up and say that,” he said.

Although some people had said issues last year were manufactured for political reasons, Willhite said he had been concerned.

“I think there really were some problems that were significant, and we’ve addressed them,” he said. “That’s what you’re here for.”

He asked Schofield how the village’s internal auditor is working out. Schofield noted the auditor has the ability to look at any department’s documents to find issues.

“His job is to go through on a regular basis and dig into the problems,” he said. “In terms of what he’s looking at, I don’t control that. He’s gone through utilities, public works, safe neighborhoods and other departments. Employees can go directly to him with issues. We have seen a significant benefit from having him on staff and being able to identify and correct issues.”

Overall, Schofield said he had a better working relationship this year with Grau & Associates. “The relationship was much more operational,” he said. “We came out of there with some recommendations, and we’ve implemented almost all of them. It worked out very well this year. I believe we have a good working relationship these days.”

Council members voted unanimously to accept the audit report.