A state auditor found that the Methow Valley Irrigation District did not properly account for payroll expenses and certain payments to vendors in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Payments to employees totaling $71,917 in 2016, $50,235 in 2017 and $51,175 in 2018 were not supported by timesheets or employee contracts. Also, the district could not provide detailed information on the purpose of $3,321 in purchases over those three years, according to a report by the Office of the Washington State Auditor, issued Sept. 9.
In addition, the district could not show that another $499 paid to vendors from 2016 to 2018 was for “allowable business purposes,” the report said.
The auditor’s finding amounts to a violation of state law, which requires local governments to document the validity of every transaction involving public funds.
The district’s three directors were approving payroll and other expenses each month without first confirming they were valid and accurate, the report said.
“The board of directors did not understand the importance of proper monitoring for the safeguarding of public assets,” the report stated. “Rather, the board largely trusted the district’s two employees to perform their jobs without detailed oversight of vendor and payroll payments.”
The district’s directors will immediately begin verifying payments made to vendors, the auditor’s report said. Also, the directors will set employee salaries annually in a written resolution.
The irrigation district was formed in 1919 to provide water to orchards and farms from Twisp to Carlton. Its main source of revenue is a property tax levied on the roughly 200 landowners it serves. The district collected $127,221 in 2018.