Bamberg County merited an unmodified, or clean, audit opinion for the 2015 fiscal year. External Auditor Dawn L. Strickland, CPA, of McGregor and Company, LLP, announced the news at the April 4 County Council meeting. The clean audit opinion comes after the County’s three-year effort to correct findings resulting in the County’s adverse and qualified audit opinions since 2009.
“It’s a great day in Bamberg County,” Controller Gina Smith, CPA, said to the Council after Strickland’s report. The clean audit opinion means the auditor attests that Bamberg County’s financial statements fairly represent the results of operations. The audit opinion will also majorly impact borrowing ability and rates, which will ensure projects and updates are completed in a timely manner. Bamberg County conducts an audit each year to determine, with reasonable assurance, that financial statements are free of material misstatements. Tests are completed which examine evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements.
While the Bamberg County Council happily received the news of the clean opinion, other material weaknesses remain with the County’s audit and will be addressed in the coming fiscal year. Smith and the County Finance staff have worked diligently since 2013, to correct findings and improve the County’s audit opinion, which had been deemed adverse from 2009 to 2012. In 2013, Bamberg County Council appointed Joey Preston as County Administrator with a directive of improving Bamberg’s financial situation, chief of which was obtaining a clean audit opinion.
Since that time, Preston and Finance staff have systematically resolved the conditions preventing the clean audit opinion each year. Issues with the financial records of the County Hospital, Inmate Funds, and the Delinquent Tax Sale, as well as, the lack of proper Capital Asset Records prevented Bamberg’s clean audit opinion in prior years, and most recently, the County’s OPEB liability hindered the County’s efforts. However, in 2014, the County eliminated all issues except the Delinquent Tax Sale and OPEB liability. For the 2015 report, auditor Strickland noted those issues were resolved, resulting in Bamberg County’s first clean, or unmodified, audit opinion in eight years.
Administrator Preston insists the clean opinion is the result of significant work from many departments in Bamberg County and proves that Bamberg County now demonstrates strong fiscal stewardship and showcases the most important measure of financial stability.