No audit: Parks commission agrees to retain accounting firm for financial statements

Thursday, February 13, 2020

By Samantha Jones

Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is getting its books in order.

At a special called meeting Tuesday, Feb. 4, chairman Bill Featherstone reminded the commission of its vote last year to retain Windle & Associates for accounting services and to complete a 2019 audit. Featherstone said Rusty Windle has decided not to do the audit but will still prepare financial statements and manage the commission's books.

"They are willing to do the basic financial accounting moving forward," Featherstone said. "Our options are to proceed with Windle & Associates on our basic financial accounting we require to monitor our budget and go outside of town for a CPA to do a 2019 audit."

Featherstone said he asked CPAs at Stone Financial if they would be open to taking over the accounting and they said no.

"They told us previously they wouldn't do an audit," Featherstone said. "They told me again today they're not willing to do the accounting … not that they didn't want to. It just hit them at the wrong time."

Commissioner Dave Hartmann asked why Windle can't do the audit and Featherstone said it comes down to time.

"The 2019 audit in his estimation had the potential to turn into a time-consuming project that he didn't perceive on the front end, so he didn't think it was in his firm's best interest to get involved in that project,” Featherstone said.

Featherstone added, "Not to defend that decision … but [Windle] knows a whole lot more today than he knew when he accepted the job, and that did influence his decision."

Windle hasn't been paid for the audit, Featherstone said, and hasn't given the commission any financial documents yet.

"What he's telling me now is if we agree to continue with him on the portion of the work he's willing to do he'll have us some documents to look at at the end of the week,” Featherstone said.

Commissioner Ruth Hager said she wasn't surprised by the decision.

"I think we knew going into it this time of the year … to ask an accounting firm to do anything was going to be time-consuming," Hager said.

Commissioner Scott Bardin asked if Windle saw something he didn't want to deal with and parks director Justin Huss said he asked Windle that very question earlier in the day.

"He said that has nothing to do with it," Huss said.

"It’s just time?" Hager asked. "That's pretty normal."

"This time of the year, it's going to be a real challenge," Huss said.

Huss said it's a good idea that the CPA handling financial accounting and the CPA handling the audit be two different people. He said he spoke with city finance director Lonnie Clark, who suggested that the commission look into an accounting firm in Rogers that handles audits for the city.

"They do have a relationship with the city already," Huss said. "They're not cheap, from what I understand, but I think there's something to be said for a separate audit."

Huss said he'd like to keep working with Windle on the financial accounting.

"Despite any starts and stops we've had, Rusty is familiar with it," Huss said.

Commissioner Christian Super agreed.

"As far as keeping the yearly stuff with Windle, I don't like the position he's put us in here, to be honest," Super said, "but I also don't want to hit the reset button. So I would say stay on with him for the year."

Bardin moved that the commission receive from Windle & Associates third quarter and fourth quarter financial statements for the year of 2019 including a balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flow. Also in Bardin's motion, he asked that Windle provide an end-of-the-year 2019 income statement, balance sheet and cash flow, which would include beginning balances going into 2020.

"That's what we need him to provide," Bardin said.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the motion and agreed to wait to decide on the audit.

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at The Auditorium.

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