by Lisa Cyriacks
Saguache County auditors Wall, Smith and Bateman of Monte Vista uncovered an accounting error in the 2013 audit of the county financials.
According to the notes to the financial statement: “The due to other governments balance of $459,051 relates to specific ownership tax erroneously recorded as clerk fee revenue in the General Fund for an undeterminable amount of time. The County has approved the distribution of 2011, 2012, and 2013 Specific Ownership Tax Class A and Class F to the taxing entities excluding the school districts, in the amount of $299,027.”
Records from the Saguache County Administrative office indicate that the county has already distributed the monies owed to the municipalities and special districts impacted by the accounting error.
Total distributions for the three prior years included $131,881.09 to Baca Grande Water and Sanitation District, $26,966.27 to Northern Saguache Ambulance District, $26,894.35 to Northern Saguache Fire Protection District, and $36,465.30 to the Northern Saguache County Library District. The Town of Crestone also received $1,095.53.
The county is currently in negotiations with the Colorado Department of Education for the school districts’ portion. Under Colorado law, school districts that fall below a certain level of funding from property and other tax revenue receive state assistance from statewide funds. This money may need to be reimbursed to the State of Colorado.
Distributions totaling $180,345.74 for 2014 year-to-date were also made. The 2014 distributions also included the school districts’ portion. The schools will not see any overall benefit since their revenue is adjusted according to meet expected levels of funding, i.e. the additional monies will result in a little less financial support from the State of Colorado.
In a press release from the county, they reassured, “The accounting issue has been resolved and the distribution of specific ownership taxes to all appropriate entities will be made on a regular schedule. The funds that were not distributed in error were placed in the county’s general fund and used for projects that benefited the citizens of the county. The county has initiated additional safeguards to prevent the occurrence of any similar concern.”