Despite intensified scrutiny, Steamboat financial audit finds no discrepancies

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Though technically late, the Steamboat Springs Finance Department received glowing marks in the city’s annual audit.

The city’s 2021 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report was issued on May 17, and City Council publicly reviewed the independent auditors’ findings and opinions on Monday, June 20.

“You’ve got a clean opinion,” said Kimberley Higgins, the certified personal accountant who performed the audit.

“It’s the best you can get,” she added, asserting that any independent CPA firm should come to the same conclusion if doing the audit.

“Technically, we’ve had a violation of our own home-rule charter every year,” City Manager Gary Suiter said. “It’s very very difficult to get done within Q1 at the end of March.”

The state deadline for comprehensive financial reports is six months after the previous year, meaning this year’s audit is on time to the state, but the city’s charter states the annual audit must be submitted and acknowledged by the end of March.

The finance department is proposing adding an amendment to the city’s charter that would extend the deadline for submitting and acknowledging their annual comprehensive financial reports to something “more reasonable,” according to Suiter.

The amendment needs a majority vote by City Council to be made into a ballot question because all changes to the city’s charter must be done through a public election. If approved by the council, the public can expect to see the amendment on this November’s ballot.

Higgins and Jeff Burch, both from the firm Eide Bailly, audited the city’s financial statements to ensure they are free of “material misstatement,” and to express an opinion about whether the financial statements are presented fairly and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Higgins and Burch found no deficiencies in internal controls and no instances of noncompliance with the city’s use of money from federal awards.

“The federal government is worried about fraud, waste and abuse,” said Higgins, who explained that in the wake of the post-pandemic recovery era, federal officials have intensified their scrutiny on how federal dollars are being managed by local governments and businesses.

This year’s audit included new guidelines to ensure compliance for federal award programs. In 2021, Steamboat received about $6.5 million from the Department of Transportation, of which the city spent about $5 million.

The report also highlighted the city’s growing equity. The city’s expenses were $53 million compared to $84 million in revenue, equaling a $31 million increase in net position. The end-of-year net position for Steamboat was $273.8 million.

“You had an excellent year in 2021,” said Higgins.

According to the report, 70% of Steamboat Springs’ net position — by far the biggest chunk — is a reflection of the city’s investment in capital assets such as land, buildings, machinery and equipment.

After the report, City Council president Robin Crossan congratulated the city’s Finance Director Kim Weber.

“Our whole accounting team stepped up and made it happen,” said Weber.

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