Township receives clean audit
January 14, 2020
By RICHARD JENKINS
Karl “Gus” Ahonen — with the Ironwood-based firm Makela, Pollack and Ahonen — delivered the news Monday that the 2018 audit was another unqualified, clean audit — the best classification an audit can receive.
“The township made significant changes in the accounting system over the last few years, you now have checks and balances in place. You’re timely recording, reconciling and reporting financial information; information is being reviewed and approved at the proper levels throughout the accounting system and you have more than one person involved in certain accounting functions,” Ahonen said. “So you did a really great job of looking at your system and correcting your prior deficiencies.”
He told the board the 2017 and 2018 audits were a considerable improvement from the township’s previous audits, when he issued multiple findings about ways the township could improve its financial practices.
“For the (2016) audit, we reported a total of eight audit findings; for the (2017) and (2018) audits, we reported zero findings each year,” Ahonen said. “This includes no budget violations to report, no issues with current property tax collections, disbursements.”
He noted 2017 was the first time where Treasurer Maria Graser held her office for the full calendar year. Graser replaced former treasurer Jyl Olson-DeRosso in November 2016.
Olson-DeRosso was later sentenced to 38 months in prison on the embezzlement by a public official charge, as well as shorter sentences on nine other felonies.
After his presentation Monday, Ahonen told the Daily Globe the embezzlement case was largely why the completion of the recent audits have been so delayed.
However, with the 2018 audit complete, Ahonen told the board the township was now caught up and current with the Michigan Department of Treasury’s filing requirements — news that was met with audible appreciation from several board members.
Ahonen said he appreciated the efforts of the township officials and employees in correcting the past issues.
Township Supervisor Jim Simmons said he was pleased with the news regarding the two audits.
“Having no deficiencies for two consecutive years is a remarkable achievement. This is the direct result of hard work, accuracy and attention to detail,” Simmons said during the meeting.
He also promised the township had implemented new systems designed to prevent a future embezzlement.
“Since the embezzlement by the former treasurer, strong internal controls with teeth were put into place and implemented,” Simmons said. “It’s fair to say we learned from what’s happened and are on the right path to rebuilding the public’s trust.”
With the past year’s audit complete, Ahonen told the Daily Globe he is beginning work on the township’s 2019 audit.
In other action, the board:
—Authorized spending $7,500 to purchase new mats to protect the floor of the township gym.
—Agreed to renew the township’s insurance policy at a price of $44,425 for the year, an approximately $8,000 increase from last year. Simmons said the township was unable to find a cheaper option when shopping around.