Nassau County Commissioners receive good report from auditors

By Cindy Jackson
March 20, 2020

Ron Whitesides

Ron Whitesides of Purvis Gray & Company presented the results of the County’s audit for the fiscal year which ended September 30, 2019, via telephone, during the BOCC meeting of March 18, 2020. Chairs for audience members were spaced a healthy distance apart but were occupied primarily by county staff.

Whitesides began his presentation on the 330-page report by explaining that an audit is simply a means of “testing the county’s processes and controls to record and report accurate financial information.”

He congratulated the Commissioners as the firm issued an “unmodified opinion” which is the highest level of assurance that an audit firm can render.

Generally speaking, there are four types of audit opinions and they are unmodified, modified, adverse and disclaimer.

Whitesides gave a brief summary of the firm’s findings, which in line with an “unmodified opinion” were quite good.

One area in which Purvis, Gray & Company did make a recommendation regarding the timeliness of billing for rescue services. The auditors found that billing doesn’t occur until 4-5 months after the ambulance transport was provided. The County responded to that recommendation explaining that it is basically a manpower issue and will be making appropriate changes to ensure rescue billing is done in a timelier manner.

Whitesides also talked about the complexities of accounting for federal and state monies. Anything over $750,000 of grant assistance from the federal government requires the auditing company to perform a Single Audit, also known as the OMB A-133 audit. As explained on a government website, “It is intended to provide assurance to the federal government that a non-federal entity has adequate internal controls in place, and is generally in compliance with program requirements.”

Nassau County received $7.8 million from the federal government in 2019, over $5 million of which was FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) money paid out from Hurricane Irma, which actually occurred back in 2017.

Also received in 2019 was $2.6 million from the State of Florida a majority of which (some $1.5 million) was received as part of the FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) Small County Road Assistance Program (SCRAP). It also required a Single Audit.

Whitesides explained that there are a lot of compliance issues with federal and state grant monies and it is an area where issues are often reported during the audit process but Nassau County had no findings. Said Whitesides, “The County is good stewards over those processes and funds.”

Megan Diehl, Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Before closing, Whitesides spoke to the overall condition of the County’s finances and noted, “The County continues to be in healthy financial condition.” According to the recommended standards of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), local governments should have at least two months of operating expenditures in reserve and Nassau County currently has approximately 2.7 months of reserves – “right at those recommended levels,” said Whitesides.

Megan Diehl, Director of the Office of Management and Budget then addressed the Commissioners, outlining the philosophy and processes that will drive the development of the FY 2020-21 budget.

Editor’s Note: Born in Hagerstown, Maryland, Cindy received her BA in Political Science from Dickinson College. Upon graduation, Cindy began her career on Capitol Hill working as a legislative aide and director. She later became a part of the public relations and lobbying team of the American Iron and Steel Institute and served as director of the office of state legislative affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Cindy was involved in economic development with the state of Maryland, and served as executive director of Leadership Washington County. As a community volunteer, Cindy participates in numerous volunteer activities serving as a member of Sunrise Rotary, and as board member of Cummer Amelia Board of Directors.