Manatee County audit committee recommendation to school board includes 390 'special project' hours

mdelaney@bradenton.comJuly 15, 2014 

BRADENTON -- A proposed engagement letter for internal auditor services that included 390 hours of "special project" work is slated to be presented to the Manatee County School Board at its next meeting, after audit committee members finalized the proposal during a teleconference meeting Monday.

During the teleconference, committee members worked with Byron Shinn on finalizing the language for an engagement letter, deleting and adding words and phrases to increase clarity and further define the responsibilities of the internal auditor. Last week, members were not ready to come to an agreement, but committee members wanted an engagement letter for Shinn and Co.'s work for the 2014-15 year to go before the school board at its July 22 meeting, so it scheduled Monday's special meeting to make the board deadline.

"Our next challenge is to explain everything to the board when we present it for approval," committee chair Joseph Blitzko said at the end of the meeting.

Overall, the district expects to spend about $315,000 for 1,795 hours of work from Shinn, at an hourly rate of about $175, the same rate the district pays now. Those hours will be split between direct auditing services, indirect services and "special project work" -- dealing with unexpected issues that may come up during routine work or any special requests.

The auditors plan to provide an estimated 1,110 hours of direct services and an estimated 685 hours of indirect services, which includes an estimated 390 hours for special projects.

Auditors plan to spend 175 hours in human resources, 170 in information services, 300 hours in finance and 270 hours in budget. During the conference Monday, Shinn told committee members that tackling the audit services for human resources and payroll will take first priority.

"I think it was pretty uniformly understood by the committee that payroll and HR need our initial attention immediately," Shinn said. "We plan on starting that work this week."

The engagement letter agreed upon by the committee includes a termination clause, that will allow either side to cut off the contract with 60-days notice and also includes a line that will allow the contract to be extended for an additional year, if both parties agree to it, Shinn said during the teleconference.

An external audit slammed the district with 42 findings, amounting to more than $10 million in questionable spending. The auditors ordered the Manatee County School District to restore about $7 million misspent in past budgets.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.

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