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Supervisors balk at paying extra auditing fees

Posted on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm

MILFORD – The Caroline County Board of Supervisors balked at paying additional fees to a company that performed an audit of the county’s finances for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The county still owes the firm, PBMares of Harrisonburg, $30,000 for extra work. The additional charges were above and beyond the original fee of $55,488 for the audit, which began in late June 2012.

At their regular meeting on Tuesday of last week, the Board of Supervisors voted three times on whether to pay the additional amount, but each vote was a 3-3 tie. Supervisors Jeff Black, Jeff Sili and Floyd Thomas voted in favor of paying the extra charges; Supervisors Wayne Acors, Calvin Taylor and Reggie Underwood voted against it.

Thomas, chairman of the board, directed the county staff to go back to the auditing firm to see if the bill could be lowered and report back at the board’s next meeting March 26. The firm had already reduced its bill earlier.

The additional charges were attributed mainly to extra hours billed for work related to the school division. The county was billed for an extra 262 hours, including 200 hours for work related to the public schools. The county was invoiced $23,000 more – after a government discount – for the extra hours for the schools.

Extra time was spent on the school division’s financial records, noted finance director Frances Hatcher, but “the schools have already said they will be more accommodating,” she added.

The supervisors were reluctant to single out the school system but made unspecified references to it.

School officials apparently were not prepared for a meeting with auditors on at least one occasion, the supervisors indicated in their discussion. As a result, the auditors left and returned to Harrisonburg.

“The meter was running,” said Thomas.

Underwood said the agency responsible for the wasted time of the auditors should pay for the pertinent charges out of its budget. However, Black argued that departments should be warned in advance.

PBMares “ought to be applauded,” Sili said. “I think it’s great that we changed auditors. I’d like to see us pay this bill rather than go to the company and say we don’t like what you did.”

“I’m not saying the auditors didn’t do good work,” Underwood said. “I just think the department ought to pay.”