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Ferry utility scolded over bookkeeping

— The state Auditor’s Office has taken Ferry County Public Utility District to task over its financial record keeping.

But the utility blames most of the problem on its efforts to restore its infrastructure after a massive July 2012 windstorm.

The storm knocked out power to the whole county and downed some 750 miles of power lines.

Hundreds of poles were snapped in the winds, estimated at 100 mph in some areas. The storm also toppled trees onto power lines, roads and buildings; one person died.

Utilities from several neighboring counties, including Okanogan, sent crews to help restore power.

In its audit, the state did not acknowledge the storm’s impact.

The state finding was issued last week for an audit of the district’s 2011 and 2012 books. The state found the district’s internal controls were inadequate to ensure timely and accurate accounting and financial reporting.

“Our audit identified a material weakness in controls that adversely affects the district’s ability to produce reliable financial statements,” the Auditor’s Office said.

It said one employee prepared the district’s year-end financial statements without oversight by someone knowledgeable of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles reporting requirements and the utility board did not perform a detailed review or reconciliation of the financial statements to make sure they were accurate and complete.

In addition, the district doesn’t have a sufficient understanding of the reporting requirements to prepare them properly.

“The district did not dedicate adequate resources or prioritize staff duties to prepare the financial statements accurately or in a timely manner,” the Auditor’s Office said.

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