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Nye County released from fiscal watch

After two years of hard work and intense scrutiny of its books, which resulted in the reorganization of the way the county handles portions of its finances and operates certain departments, Nye County has officially been released from fiscal watch.

This comes as a result of collaboration between the offices of the Nye County treasurer and Nye County comptroller, as well as the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, which worked together over the past 24 months to correct a variety of issues that were identified in previous county audits.

“Nye County reached a significant milestone on Jan. 28, 2021,” Nye County Treasurer John Prudhont told the Pahrump Valley Times when reached for comment. “It qualified for, and was removed from, the fiscal watch list by the state of Nevada Committee on Local Government Finance, or CLGF, after being on the list and being required to report to the state of Nevada Department of Taxation on a weekly basis for the past two years.”

Prudhont was originally appointed as Nye County treasurer in Jan. 2019 and essentially inherited existing problems within not only the treasurer’s office but those of the comptroller and sheriff as well. Just one week after he took office, the county was placed on fiscal watch and Prudhont had promised commissioners at the time of his appointment that he would bring all his previous financial experience to bear in remedying the issues that had prompted the fiscal watch designation.

“The reasons that Nye County was placed on fiscal watch, almost a year after being taken off fiscal watch, were many,” Prudhont stated. “The company that provides outside auditing services for Nye County for the annual financial audit, Dan C. McArthur Ltd., had identified material deficiencies revealed in the 2018-2019 fiscal year audit. Some of these issues had carried over from the 2017-2018 fiscal year audit.”

Relating to the county comptroller and finance department, the audit had shown that there were funds with deficit fund balances, which violated Nevada Revised Statute. “The local government has serious internal control problems noted in the audit report which have not been corrected,” Prudhont quoted when asked to detail what had caused Nye County to be placed on fiscal watch in 2019.

Another deficiency identified was within the sheriff’s office, which had on several occasions exceeded its annual budget, yet another violation of Nevada Revised Statute.

As for the treasurer’s office itself, there were issues with the monthly treasurer’s report not being completed and submitted to the Nye County Commission as required, along with other financial reports that were not being filed consistently or on time, Prudhont said. In addition, Prudhont said McArthur’s audit also noted a “significant deficiency” from the 2017-2018 fiscal year audit regarding a lack of cross-training of staff and the need for an employee succession plan. While these were not violations of Nevada Revised Statute, they were still a major cause for concern.

“During the past two years, the sheriff’s department has worked together with the comptroller and finance department so that their deficiency identified in the audit has been corrected utilizing communication and basic accounting,” Prudhont told the Times. “Similarly, for the ‘deficient fund balances’ identified for the comptroller, the issue was rectified through basic account and working together with the board of county commissioners.

“During my first week as treasurer, I identified the same issue regarding lack of much-needed internal controls and worked with Nevada State Bank to create and implement a multi-stage approval process, that included the comptroller’s department, which corrected the deficiency during my first six months in office. Identifying and implementing procedures for ensuring that effective cross-training was occurring on a consistent, month-to-month basis, is now in place,” Prudhont continued.

“The final piece that had been missing when I took office in 2019 was reverse engineering, and identifying the process flows, needed to complete the laborious process of completing the treasurer’s report and bank reconciliation report so that the treasurer’s department is able to meet its monthly deadline. Through ongoing reorganization of the treasurer’s department, I was able to add Chief Deputy Treasurer Raelyn Powers, about six months into my first term, to our team and she had been instrumental in digging into reports, cleaning up the historical data and developing process flows that ensure that the reports are completed and delivered as required by NRS,” Prudhont stated.

Prudhont remarked that is has not been an easy task, with an enormous amount of work going into the effort to correct the county’s audit issues, but thankfully, it has been worth it, with the CLGF acknowledging the hard work of each of the departments involved in remediating the county’s deficiencies. Going forward, he seemed quite optimistic and was sure to note that the county’s latest audit, for fiscal year 2019-2020, had come with very positive results.

“Mr. McArthur said at the recent audit meeting with the Nye County Board of County Commissioners that in all of the years that he and his accounting firm have been providing the annual audit for Nye County, this is the cleanest that he has seen the books,” Prudhont detailed. “I look forward to continue to work together with my treasurer’s department team, the comptroller and all of the other departments and stakeholders in Nye County while delivering the treasury services that our department is mandated to provide.”

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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