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County to seek audit extension

POSTED: December 16, 2013 8:26 p.m.

Effingham County commissioners have approved asking for an extension to complete their fiscal year 2013 audit — and it’s the last time they can do so without incurring a penalty from the state.

Audits are scheduled to be submitted to the state by Dec. 31, and the county opted to change auditors in mid-October. Commissioners approved a contract with Thigpen, Lanier, Westerfield and Deal of Statesboro, and that firm’s auditors have been meeting with elected officials and agencies since late November.

County officials said it was unlikely the auditors would complete their task before the end of the month, in order to avert the need for an extension.

“They told us when they got started it would be a very slim possibility,” Chairman Wendall Kessler said of the auditors meeting the deadline.

While the state allows a government to ask for audit extensions on consecutive years, it won’t permit a third, county finance director Joanna Wright said. The county got an extension for the fiscal year 2012 audit, performed by local firm Caines and Hodges.

The FY12 audit eventually was presented to commissioners this June, and controversy surrounding that audit led to Caines and Hodges withdrawing as auditors for FY13. Commissioners engaged Thigpen, Lanier, Westerfield and Deal, which also is performing the city of Springfield’s audit, for $41,770.

Commissioners also approved the FY13 capital improvement element. The CIE shows how impact fees are used and how future impact fees will be used. The CIE is submitted annually to the state Department of Community Affairs for review, and commissioners must adopt the CIE in order for the county to continue to be a qualified local government.

Loss of that status could affect the county’s ability to compete for and attract grants.

Impact fees can be used only for capital projects undertaken to accommodate growth.


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