Parks auditors’ job commitment shaved by auditors

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Chair Bill Featherstone informed Parks commissioners that Windle & Associates withdrew its willingness to perform a 2019 audit of Parks’ financials at a special meeting before a scheduled workshop on Feb. 4.

In response to commissioner Scott Bardin asking if W&A had seen anything they didn’t want to be involved in, Director Justin Huss said no. Featherstone concurred and said the audit had the potential to be too time consuming for the firm.

Commissioners discussed options, still wanting an audit for 2019. Huss said City Finance Director Lonnie Clark would speak with Legislative Audit and gave a suggestion that Parks go to BKD in Rogers as they have a relationship with the city.

Featherstone also provided a list of six accounting firms in the Bentonville/Fayetteville area they could speak with about an audit. Featherstone said he was willing to speak with the firms and gauge their interest.

Commissioners weighed options on how to proceed, needing to have a motion of approval of W&A’s continued services. Commissioners felt they had already fulfilled that with the original motion made in November 2019, but Featherstone was adamant that the commission needed to give specifics of what they expected from W&A.

The motion was made by Bardin that W&A provide 3rd and 4th quarter finance statements, as well as 2019 balance sheet, including cash flow and income statement, and a 2019 financial report. Ruth Hager seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Shuttles under scrutiny

The workshop focused of the overall budget, and discussion rested on shuttles. Commissioner Dave Hartmann voiced concern that cost analysis of shuttle expenses for 2020 were $73,000 vs. $60,000 in 2019. He said the commission approved the shuttle purchases under the belief that the cost would be cheaper if they owned the shuttles.

Huss responded that projections of shuttle expenses were high and that there were ways to squeeze revenue out of their operation. He said the employee cost was based on 1800 hours for the drivers over nine months and that they would not reach that many hours due to weather and fluctuating use.

Commissioners concluded that they needed to monitor shuttle expenses and learn ridership numbers. Without hard numbers from W&A they were unable to continue modifying the budget, and set a workshop for Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the Harmon Park office.

Commissioners had a short discussion on the interpretation of the Lake Leatherwood Master Plan and that the commission would need to decide whether shuttles fit within that plan to receive funds from the 1/8 percent sales tax.