A self selected group of Stevensville residents have thrown another handful of mud at the wall hoping some would stick during this election. Like most of their platform it is full of innuendo, inaccurate information and character assassination. This low road to election has taken yet another turn in insinuating the town government is somehow mishandling the auditing of the financial records of Stevensville. I decided to educate myself on the matter after hearing candidates politicizing during a town council comment session recently.
A short history of the audit status shows the town has not been audited in the last three fiscal years dating 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. In addition the current fiscal year audit is due at the end of the year.
Also it should be noted the current administration of Mayor Mim Mack began in late September of 2011. The Mayor was appointed to the position by the town council after the previous mayor resigned. At the time the town’s office staff consisted of a utility billing clerk and a town clerk that pulled triple duty as the town clerk, the court clerk, and the treasurer. In February of 2012 it became clear to the town council that one person was not capable of fulfilling all of the responsibilities. The fiscal health of the town required more expertise than was currently available and split off the position of treasurer.
It soon became apparent why audits had not been accomplished. Without bookkeeping that follows acceptable business practices an audit cannot take place. For the next 14 months a monumental effort ensued which repaired the damage done in the previous three fiscal years and simultaneously instituted and performed the current year’s bookkeeping in the proper manner necessary so that audits for not only the three fiscal years in arrears but also the current year could be accomplished by December 31st of this year.
It has been improperly stated, in my opinion, that audits certify a budget is balanced. Budget balancing is not an auditing function. A budget is balanced prior to an audit taking place. That an audit will somehow certify that a budget is balanced is a misconception about the auditing process. The audit assures the town has recorded the financial goings on in the proper manner and within the proper framework of acceptable accounting practices.
Audits are important. Most importantly they tell the residents in Stevensville that the financial framework meets the acceptable business practices of the State of Montana and the Federal Government. Further, when entities such as bonding companies or federal agencies are looking to grant the town money, successful audits give them assurances the town can handle the funds properly. Successful audits can also be a means of obtaining lower interest costs on borrowed money.
I feel confident Mayor Mim Mack and the town council have our best interest in mind and have this matter under control. It should be noted that the mayor’s opponent served and quit the council during the early years of audits not being performed. Kind of the pot calling the kettle black.
I encourage you to vote to retain Mayor Mim Mack when your ballot arrives in the mail this Wednesday, October 16.