College addresses auditors' concerns
It's been several years since the state has received an annual financial report on time from College of Eastern Utah.
But when the fiscal year 2007-2008 books close at the college on June 30, the state will have the report within 90 days.
"To me, the most important thing about this is how everyone in the financial department here came together, acted as a team and got us caught up," said Kevin Walthers, CEU's vice president of finance.
Last month, the college submitted the completed financial reports for 2006 and 2007.
The data will set up the 2007-08 financial report that will be submitted in late summer.
In addition, CEU has resolved almost all the concerns outlined by state auditors in a letter to the board of trustees and former president Ryan Thomas in August 2005.
The audit covered fiscal year 2003-2004 and concentrated problems CEU had with financial reporting during that time period.
A number of the discrepancies were reportable conditions tied to the college's financial reporting and money handling practices.
The 14 findings included a material weakness and five reportable conditions.
Findings included the recording of 49 journal entries into CEU's accounting system after the audit was finalized and that the entries were reviewed by only the person who prepared the report.
The 2004 audit indicated that:
Ten of CEU's 19 departments did not review financial budget reports.
Separation and control of duties were weak in some areas.
The college had problems with capital asset policy and procedures.
CEU failed to collect adequate fees to operate Burtenshaw Hall dorm for the year.
Some CEU retirees received more benefits than contracts allowed.
Several contractors did not have formal contracts with the college.
In addition, the report noted that a surprise count of petty cash in the purchasing department was short and too many people had open access to the fund. The audit also indicated that an unauthorized petty cash fund at the CEU Prehistoric Museum had existed for at least 10 years without being included in the college's accounting system.
"Almost all the problems that were noted in that letter have now been cured," said Walthers. "This year, we have five findings, but none were reportable or material."
The financial vice president credited controller Gina Gagon and her staff with fixing the problems.
"We were able to do it because more people on the staff are doing what needs to be done," said Gagon. "It has truly been a team process."
An important aspect of the 2007 financial report is the fact that the college has a good viability ratio or the ability to pay debt while maintaining more than enough assets to do so.
CEU's total debt currently stands at $1,328,109 compared to more than $5 million four years ago.
"Most of that debt is because we owe money on some capital equipment and the Leavitt student center," said Walthers. "The bulk of it is the student center and that debt falls under a lease we have with the state."
Walthers became CEU's financial vice president in August 2006.
After resolving staffing and training concerns, the vice president said the department is working on new projects that will help keep things in line.
The CEU financial department has a new computerized time and attendance system, an automated purchasing system and a move toward real time budget status reports so departments can actually see what they have.
"During the trustees meeting on Thursday, we are going to give all the employees in the department awards for doing a stupendous job in getting us up to date," said Walthers. "Now we also have the expectation that we will keep it up-to-date from now on, too."