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An independent auditor has criticized the accounting practices of the Davis County Mental Health agency but said the agency is improving its procedures and there doesn't appear to be any financial misdealings.

The audit report by Crouch and Wood noted the agency's general ledger is not current, making a thorough financial analysis impossible.But auditor Lynn Wood Wednesday told the Davis County Commission that prior to his audit of the agency, state Medicaid examiners did a complete audit of their own and found nothing wrong.

Wood recommended the commissioners obtain a copy of the state audit, which Wood called "thorough beyond belief" in the wake of the problems that cropped up with the Timpanogos Mental Health agency in Utah County. In Utah County, three top administrators were charged with misuse of funds after millions of dollars were discovered missing.

Wood also noted that the Davis County mental health agency is different from other county departments, operating as a non-profit corporation with its own board of directors. And, he said, part of the problem in keeping financial records up to date has to do with staffing and management philosophies.

The agency was seeking a full-time accountant while he was conducting his audit, Wood said.

Williams said Thursday he prefers to put as much of his agency's resources into treating patients as possible.

"The money's all there. We just had a state Medicaid audit and we just completed our own audit, done through our board of directors," Williams said. "The funds are all there and everything is done in accordance with our policies and contracts."

The director admitted his agency has not put a high priority on computerized accounting practices, but that is changing. A full-time accountant is being added to the staff, Williams said.

"It's a matter of priority, of where we put our resources," Williams said. "For us it comes down to a question of, with our limited funds, whether we provide services for our clients of a fancy, computerized accounting system.

"But I've caved in and we're hiring an accountant to expedite things. But hiring one means we can't hire another therapist and we've got a waiting list of clients that need help," said Williams.

Williams said by adding an accountant he may be opening his agency to criticism from the other side that too much emphasis is put on administration.

In his report, Wood said a monthly accounting report is done by the agency and records are reconciled with bank statements but "without a double-entry system, it is difficult to determine whether monthly financial statements are accurate.

"We did note that double-entry accounting was performed at year-end. The backlog of work created by the lack of a monthly double-entry system resulted in considerable delays in the delivery of the annual audit reports," Wood said.

State auditors also surveyed salaries of the counselors and administrators in the county agency, Wood said, and found their salaries are not out of line and that the agency's administrative costs, about 13 percent of its annual $4 million budget, is comparable to Weber and Salt Lake counties.

"With their budget they need to be more sophisticated in dealing with their finances and accounting," Wood said. "I feel sure after talking with Dr. Williams they're working hard to solve their problems and bring their procedures and records up to date."