A question regarding the Town of Englewood’s most recent audit has gained the attention of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.
During Monday night’s regular commission meeting, it was announced that the comptroller’s office had issued a letter to the Town of Englewood regarding the state of their audit for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2019.
According to the letter, the town’s auditor, Richard Hill, had not issued an opinion on the town’s financial statements due to material weaknesses in internal control and financial reporting.
The letter informed the town officials the audited financial statements were the responsibility of management.
“As elected officials of the Town of Englewood, each of you occupy a stewardship position and as such are responsible for the proper accounting of the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenditures of the town,” the letter stated.
Englewood Town Manager Joe Cline believes one of the issues with the audit was due to it being turned in late.
“The audit was very late in being turned in by our auditor and the issue with that is the auditor didn’t have the proper records to perform his duties and that is the reason we didn’t get the unqualified opinion,” said Cline.
“There were several issues in trying to conduct the audit. There weren’t records here, checks were written without invoice, without proper documentation.”
Other concerns consisted of the previous town manager reportedly overpaying state taxes and putting checks from the State of Tennessee within boxes.
“After speaking to our auditor they are currently conducting an audit for the last fiscal year which is probably going to be worse than the audit that was just completed,” stated Cline. “He has stated that he probably won’t give an unqualified opinion because of the same issues ... The comptroller wanted the mayor and the board to know that it is their fiscal responsibility because the previous board did not do their fiduciary responsibility in taking care of this.”
Due to the previous method of handling finances, Cline stated that the commission placed a purchasing policy in place during Monday’s meeting.
“The issue right now is to correct the problem because, even though this happened under the previous administration, it is still our charge to take care of it,” Cline said. “We are under a state investigation. It started with one issue and has expanded as more problems have been uncovered, so I honestly can’t say what we are going to be dealing with down the road.”
He hopes the comptroller’s office will give the new board a chance to fix the issues.
“I hope they will give us a chance before they step in,” Cline stated.
“I have never experienced this, in my time, and I don’t know when the next audit report will come back or what the comptroller will say, but it says in the letter that we can provide a response and we are going to.”
Cline stated the response will contain the steps they are taking to rectify the issues hoping that it will “soften the blow” of the next audit report.
“This needs to be taken seriously,” Cline expressed. “This is not the proper way to operate a municipal government and I am going to assure the people that while we are here that we are going to do everything in our ability to correct this problem.”