Official: Jefferson County Public Utility District has corrected deficiencies cited in state report

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT HADLOCK — The conditions prompting a state auditor’s finding that the Jefferson County Public Utility District was not following procedure from 2010-12 are no longer an issue, according to the PUD board president.

“There was a period when we were preparing to take over electric utility that we fell behind,” Wayne King said.

“We have now corrected everything.”

In a report released Tuesday, the state cited the PUD for a “significant deficiency,” which is defined as “a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control that is less severe than a material weakness, yet important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance.”

The audit period was January 2010 to December 2012.

Voters authorized the PUD’s entry into the electrical power business in 2009. In March 2013, the switch was made to the PUD from Puget Sound Energy.

According to the state’s report, Jefferson PUD “experienced turnover in the Finance Director position resulting in an inconsistent process for ensuring the financial statements were complete, accurate and prepared in accordance with current Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

“The District relied on the contracted CPA to compile the financial statements and did not provide adequate oversight, such as reviewing the financial reporting package, to ensure the financial statements were completed accurately and timely [and] there was a lack of procedures to ensure its depreciation was calculated.”

Michael Legarsky, a former city of Port Townsend employee who once served as a state auditor, has put the agency on a timely reporting procedure, King said.

In its response to the state, which was included in the report, the PUD characterized the process of incorporating electrical service as “monumental” and that recent restructuring has solved the problem.

“We have hired several new employees to transition the organization from a small water district to a countywide public power district,” the PUD said in its response.

“We are also in process to acquire and implement a new comprehensive accounting and billing system that is compatible with electric operations.

“We are redesigning all our accounting processes to improve our internal controls, which will address the concerns raised by the auditor.”

PUD manager Jim Parker said the Auditor’s Office will follow up in July and conduct yearly audits in the future instead of every two or three years because of the amount of money handled.

Prior to taking over from Puget Sound Energy, the PUD handled $2 million per year.

Now, it is closer to $30 million, Parker said.

Said King: “We are in really good shape. I feel good about where we are today.

“Michael has gotten us on the right track. He knows what has to be done and when to do it.”

A link to the complete audit is available on the PUD’s website, www.jeffpud.org, under “Latest JPUD News.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 08. 2014 6:37PM
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