FRONT ROYAL - The Board of Supervisors at its regular Tuesday meeting unanimously approved its fiscal year 2018 audit, which was delayed about 10 months.
During a meeting earlier this month, the board received an audit presentation from Matt McLearen, who works for the county’s auditing firm Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates.
In that presentation, McLearen explained that the county’s delay in approving its audit stemmed from the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority’s inability to complete its audit. EDA Executive Director Douglas Parsons has explained that the authority's audit has been complicated due to the past alleged financial improprieties within the organization.
County Administrator Doug Stanley explained Tuesday that the EDA’s budget is a “component unit” of the county’s budget, so “it’s not technically part of the county’s budget and operations.”
“It is a separate, discrete unit. But because we fund a portion of their operations, they’re included as part of our audit,” Stanley said.
Instead of waiting for the EDA to finish its audit, the county has opted to proceed without that component.
Supervisor Tony Carter noted that “the EDA’s component” would be part of the county’s budget “in normal times.”
“But because of these extraordinary times, they’re not,” he said.
McLearen, according to previous reports, noted that his firm does not audit the EDA but waits for the authority’s financial information when its audit has been completed. He added that there were “no deficiencies” or “material weaknesses” in the county’s audit.
When the EDA’s audit is complete, Stanley said it would be included in next year’s county audit.
“At the end of the day, the audit is what it is. This is the statement of our finances as of June 30, 2018,” Stanley said.
Supervisor Tom Sayre said that the financial audit report states “‘the financial statement disclosures are neutral, consistent and clear.’” He also noted the county’s bond rating is AA+, while the highest rating possible is AAA.
“So that’s just one notch below the highest that’s even possible,” Sayre said.
Finance Director Andre Fletcher noted that the county has received an award for excellence in financial presentations for four consecutive years, a streak that stopped this year due to the delay.
During the meeting’s public comment period, citizen Jim Bond said the supervisors cannot approve the audit because “there is a well-known material weakness in the internal control of Warren County and that needs to be recognized in the audit report.”
“In the unlikely event that you got a clean audit report on the EDA...you might have an argument. Otherwise, you can’t approve it,” Bond said.
Seeing how that all supervisors have been indicted on misdemeanor misfeasance and nonfeasance charges related to their oversight of the EDA, Bond said there must be a material weakness in the audit.
“I think that the indictments against the entire management team of the county indicates that there is a very strong possibility that there is a material weakness in your internal controls...It would be a conservative approach to recognize that,” he said.
During his report to the board, Sayre addressed social media harassment that has occurred in the wake of the indictments. He noted his disdain of recent Facebook posts that are “attacking my daughter, my son and my wife.”
“I find that conduct outrageous. To those who are doing this, please leave my family alone,” he said.
Sayre declined to say who made the posts because “I’m not going to give anybody the notoriety they’re seeking” and “it’s sick to say who even is doing it.”
“It’s false, it’s outrageous,” Sayre said. “Today there was new stuff being posted again. Just stuff that’s just mind-boggling. Not even close to being near the truth. So please leave my family alone, will ya?” Sayre said.
Chairman Dan Murray noted that “Facebook is a publication and what’s being put on Facebook could be handled legally.”
On another note, Murray, who will leave office next year, challenged the incoming board “to research and implement a plan” to consolidate the town and county government.
“We should be one government for all. This would stop finger-pointing and put a lot of things at rest. There’s too many falsehoods that are out there,” he said.
The supervisors also:
-Approved the refinancing of bonds through the Virginia Resource Authority for construction and renovation projects that are estimated to save the county $11.5 million.
-Approved a resolution declaring Oct. 24 World Polio Day in Warren County.
-Extended through the next year the county’s contract with Adams-Nelson and Associates to provide current and future real estate broker services.
-Approved a conditional use permit to allow private use camping on a lot on Valley Retreat Road in the Panhandle Valley Retreat Subdivision.
-Entered a closed session to discuss possible legal action to recover funds from the EDA.