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Audit Committee holds organizational meeting

The Unicoi County Commission’s Audit Committee held its first meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the Unicoi County Courthouse.
Previously appointed to serve on the committee were Rob Stromberg, Ken Kiesel, John Harris, Karen Bailey and former commissioner Dr. James “Mickey” Hatcher. All members were in attendance at the meeting. Also in attendance at last week’s meeting were County Mayor Greg Lynch, Commission Chairwoman Marie Rice and County Finance Director Phyllis Bennett.
The Unicoi County Commission passed a resolution establishing the Audit Committee in March 2014. According to the resolution, which is based on T.C.A. 9-3-405, the Audit Committee is to “provide independent review and oversight of the county’s financial processes and the county’s internal controls, a review of the external auditor’s report and follow up on management’s corrective action, and compliance with laws, regulations and ethics.”
The resolution also stipulates that the Audit Committee be made up of five members – all of whom have financial experience and knowledge.
“While committee members need not be accountants, they should possess sufficient knowledge and experience in finance, business and account to discharge the committee’s duties,” the resolution states.
Last week’s meeting was described as the committee’s “maiden voyage” by Lynch.
The Audit Committee conducted last week’s meeting based on guidelines prepared by the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS). According to these guidelines, one of the first steps of the committee should be the election of a chairman, vice chairman and secretary. Unanimously elected as the chairman was Hatcher; Stromberg was unanimously elected vice chairman; and Kiesel was elected as secretary.
The next CTAS recommendation discussed last week by the Audit Committee was determining whether or not the committee has enough financial expertise with governmental accounting and auditing standards or if hiring contracting with a consultant or accountant would be needed to provide said expertise.
After a brief discussion, the committee came to the conclusion they had enough experience to move forward.
The committee also determined that it would like to meet with the auditor responsible for the county’s recent annual audit in order to better understand the audit process and the audit findings in the 2013-2014 fiscal year audit.
According to discussion during last week’s meeting, the Audit Committee will begin an examination into the 2013-2014 county audit at an upcoming meeting or meetings – the dates of which have not been announced. The committee will also review how county officials have responded to and taken steps to correct any and all audit findings.
All minutes of the Audit Committee will be filed with the Unicoi County Clerk.