Staff cited for ‘impressive’ stewardship
The financial team in Okanogan County government — the auditor, treasurer, deputy treasurer and their staffs — have been honored with the State Auditor’s Stewardship Award for accurate financial reporting, for being good stewards of public funds, and for their overall commitment to excellence.
“We’ve only been giving these out since 2015. … You’re the sixth county we’ve done, so it’s pretty impressive, out of 39 counties. This is a big deal, and you deserve it,” Washington State Auditor Pat McCarthy said when she presented the award at an Okanogan County commissioners’ meeting last week.
The award recognizes Okanogan County Auditor Cari Hall, Treasurer Leah Mc Cormack, Deputy Treasurer Pam Johnson, employees in both offices, and the county commissioners for their diligence, communication and dedication to accurate financial reporting.
The award is indicative of the professionalism of the people who work in the auditor’s and treasurer’s offices, and of the leadership of the county commissioners, McCarthy said.
“We’ve all worked very hard to be sure we have the best relationship,” Hall told the Methow Valley News. “To be recognized for working so hard to have our annual reports accurate and on time is truly a great honor.”
“The State Auditor’s Office recognizes Okanogan County’s dedication to making government work better,” McCarthy read from the award letter. “The County’s leadership promotes a culture of accountability for public resources,” the letter said.
The commitment to accountability is reflected in the county’s processes for financial reporting. The letter hailed the effective communication between the auditor and treasurer as critical to accuracy in that reporting.
Producing accurate financial reports requires that everyone work together, Hall said. The commissioners are always open to suggestions, and the county’s department heads provide requested information right away. And staff at the state auditor’s office have always been outstanding, patient and very helpful, Hall said.
Hall has made sure that the county’s financial reports comply with the state’s system for budgeting, accounting and reporting, the award letter said. And Mc Cormack and Johnson proactively reported on some financial areas even before they were required by the state, it said.
Accountability to citizens
The county’s financial staff helped the state by providing feedback on new reporting requirements, the letter said. “These are but a few examples that demonstrate how County leadership and staff want to be accountable to citizens and [be] good stewards of public funds,” the letter said.
Financial offices are the backbone of state and county governments, McCarthy said. “You don’t have to do anything magical, but you do good, hard work, and that’s commendable,” she said.
The communication between the auditor, treasurer and commissioners is a big part of their success, and it’s something that doesn’t happen every day, McCarthy said. The letter hailed the positive and professional manner Okanogan County staff take in their dealings with the state auditors’ staff.
Johnson thanked the employees at the county and the state auditor’s office, stressing the importance of teamwork. Hall thanked workers at the county and state for being generous with their time and experience.
The county’s financial committee is unique for being so effective, Okanogan County Commissioner Chris Branch said. He noted that employees in the auditor’s and treasurer’s offices have a cooperative attitude and are generous with their time in answering questions. County Commissioner Jim DeTro hailed the staff for their cooperation and noted that the process is smoother than he’s seen it in his 12 years on the board.
“It’s truly humbling to be recognized for doing my job,” Hall said. “It’s a very proud moment for Okanogan County.” All three commissioners were emotional in their comments after McCarthy presented the award, she said.
“I’m extremely proud that Okanogan County is being recognized. I’m still kind of in awe that it happened,” Hall said.
Half a dozen employees of the state Auditor’s Office accompanied McCarthy to Okanogan to present the award.