County looks at cutting cost of having annual audit completed

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

Could Houston County have their annual audit completed for less the $67,000? That’s what interim County Financial Director Carol Lapham asked during last week’s county board meeting.

The county has used the Minnesota State Auditor’s Department to conduct the annual audit for many years. The price tag for the financial review of the county’s books was $67,000 in 2011.

The county board agreed with Lapham that it would be prudent to check into prices and see if an independent auditing firm might be able to provide the services for less money. A savings of $10,000 was mentioned.

The board approved the contract with the state for the audit, but also instructed Lapham to do some research.

A motion by Commissioner Steve Schuldt and seconded by Commissioner Justin Zmyewski to approve the annual contract was unanimously approved.

In other board action:

Appropriations are made

The board approved the following list of appropriations for 2012:

SE Initiative Fund          $ 2,700
SEMAAA                       $ 2,000
SELCO                       $123,000
Emergency Medical      $10,000
Semcac-RSVP               $1,000
Semcac Sr. Dining          $1,000
Semcac Sr. Caregiver     $1,000
Semcac Sr. Nutrition       $1,000
Historical Society          $31,700
Hist. Society (match)     $5,000
Historic Bluff Country     $   986
Ag Society                    $18,000

Cell phone policy

Commissioner Teresa Walter said she reviewed the current county cell phone policy and felt it was very well written. She suggested that all per diems should be $30 per month, regardless if the phone is a regular cell phone or a smart phone.

Walter also felt county employees who are currently being reimbursed through the cell phone program should continue to receive the monthly payments, but that the county board should review any new requests.

No action was taken on the recommendations. The board will be taking the issue up soon.

New board chamber

Zmyewski reported that he has received two quotes from area businesses for new carpeting in the old district courtroom, which will be converted into the county board chambers.

He said that he is working with contractors located within the county and should have more information about the remodeling project, which he is spearheading later this month.

Committee assignments  

Committee assignments were made for the various committees and boards the county commissioners sit on.

The six standing committees, when each meets and its members are:

• Human Services- meets first and third Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. Members include commissioners Steve Schuldt and Teresa Walter, the Social Services, Nursing Services and Veterans Services directors, the county attorney and court administrator.

• Land Use- meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. Members include commissioners Tom Bjerke and Justin Zmyewski, auditor, treasurer, surveyor, recorder, assessor, GIS coordinator, environmental services director, zoning administrator and Ralph Tuck from the Soil and Water Conservation District.

• Law- meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 8:30 a.m. members include commissioners Steve Schuldt and Teresa Walter, county attorney, sheriff, probation officer and court administrator.

• Public Works- meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 8:30 a.m. Members include commissioners Jack Miller and Tom Bjerke, county engineer, planning and zoning officer, water quality coordinator and surveyor.

• Insurance- meets the second Tuesday of each month at 11 a.m. following the county board meeting. Members include commissioners Jack Miller and Tom Bjerke, finance director, auditor, human resource director and highway department accountant.

• Finance- meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 11 a.m. following the county board meeting. Members include all five commissioners, accounting manager,  treasurer, human services accountant, highway department accountant and public health accountant.

You can contact Charlie Warner at charlie.warner@ecm-inc.com

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