An examination of this town’s 2015 finances revealed mostly good news but also a few recurring things from past years the town can do to improve on its financial management and reporting.
Zebulon’s total fund balance increased 6 percent, to $7,260,000, from 2014.
It marks the second straight year the town has managed to add about $451,000, based on a combination of revenues coming in over the expected amount and expenditures coming in under those budgeted.
“That’s attributable to a good staff and watching expenditures and that’s something I wanted to point out,” Mayor Bob Matheny said after the town’s annual audit was presented Monday. “That’s very significant.”
The town ended the fiscal year with an unrestricted fund balance equal to 78 percent of its general fund expenses, significantly more than the 50 percent minimum one of the town’s policies requires it to hold at any given time.
The town also saw a decrease of $747,000 in debt from June 30, 2014 to that same date this year.
The audit report noted a significant deficiency in Zebulon’s internal control structure, involving a lack of segregation of duties in its finance department.
“There was one significant deficiency, the same one we’ve had the last couple years, because of the staff size,” accountant Keith Joyce told town leaders.
As a result of that condition, auditors said financial transactions could be mishandled. They recommended duties be separated as much as possible and that the town look into alternatives to spread out the work.
“It’s a deal where somewhere else, like the City of Raleigh, one person only does one thing, whereas here there’s three of us who have to do an array of things,” said Finance Director Bobby Fitts. “We don’t have enough people to segregate them. But in reality, I don’t think there’s any increased likelihood of mishandling transactions.”
The auditors recommended last year adding another set of eyes to review bank statements, to check for unusual transactions or foul play. Town leaders revisited the idea and appointed Matheny to the task this summer, Fitts said.
“Hopefully it’s something they’ll remove from that list next year,” Fitts said.
Other areas for improvement auditors found, and have in the past, “are not considered to be material weaknesses or significant deficiencies,” they said in their report.
One was an instance in which an employee who was not on an authorized list used a town credit card to purchase $17.96 worth of CDs and cases to include the town’s Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Operations Plan in agenda packets for a joint public hearing in March. Fitts said town staff thought the employee was on the list prior to the purchase, but was not.
The other was an instance where travel purposes were not listed when planning staff expensed hotel stay for a zoning conference in Greensboro.
Auditors pointed out the same minor issues in the town’s 2013 report, in addition to a missing receipt.