Auditor’s office to convert accounting system

LISBON – The Columbiana County Auditor’s Office has found a way to convert to the commonly used and preferred accounting system at little cost to the county, thanks to Bert Dawson and the federal government.

Auditor Nancy Milliken has been authorized by county commissioners to hire the firm of Julian & Grube Inc. to perform the GAAP conversion for $61,700 over three years.

GAAP stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which is the accounting system used by 82 of Ohio’s 88 counties and the federal government. Every time the state auditor’s office performs a state audit of the county’s books it cites the county for failing to have GAAP.

Milliken has balked at switching from a cash-based accounting system to GAAP because she said her staff does not have the time to do the conversion, which involves assigning values to every piece of county property and equipment, nor does the office have the extra money to hire a firm to do the work.

Until now.

County Engineer Bert Dawson said when his staff was closing out the Glenmoor/Substation sewer project in St. Clair Township they discovered there was $50,000 in contingency funds left over from a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan. He said the USDA allows contingency funding to be used for converting to the GAAP system since that is the accounting system used by the federal government.

“They also told us there would be no more grants for Columbiana County unless we converted to GAAP,” Dawson said, which is when he approached Milliken with the idea of using the USDA money.

There are benefits to having GAAP accounting system, Milliken said, which will make it easier when the county goes to borrow money since it is the accounting system used by lending institutions and state and federal government agencies.

The USDA money will only cover $50,000 of the cost, with commissioners paying the remaining $11,700. Milliken expects the conversion to take a year, with Julian & Grube handling the annual updates for the two years after that. The plan is for the auditor’s office to perform the annual updates after that, but if they are unable, Milliken estimated it would cost the county an extra $15,000 to hire someone to do so.

In another matter, commissioners amended the county personnel policy to require workers who use their car for county business to carry the state minimum in liability insurance, which is $25,000. In doing so, commissioners rejected the recommendation of their insurance carrier, CORSA, which recommended the standard minimum of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident be required.

Commissioner Jim Hoppel said they rejected the recommendation because requiring workers to carry the higher liability insurance could be burdensome for county employees at the lower end of the pay scale. He said going to the higher rates would not save the county any money on its premium.

Commissioners also agreed to donate a 2008 sheriff’s cruiser to the New Waterford Police Department. The cruiser has 74,796 miles.

“We’re glad to help out some of these villages and townships that don’t have a large revenue source,” said Commission Chairman Mike Halleck.

The commissioners’ next meeting is 9 a.m. Wednesday.