Tag Archives: Monty Mahan

Monty Mahan Responds to Story on Audit of Pierce County Conservation District

Monty Mahan is a South Kitsap resident who ran for South Kitsap Commissioner in 2008 but was bumped out of the race in the primary. His father, Bill Mahan, is a Port of Bremerton Commissioner. Mahan is director of the Pierce Conservation District, an audit of which is the subject of a Tacoma News Tribune article to run in tomorrow’s Kitsap Sun.

I spoke to Mahan and asked him to elaborate on responses he made in the article.

Brian Sonntag’s office, in a review of the district’s 2007 finances, said it “did not have adequate internal review over purchasing and disbursements.” Although the auditor’s office completed its report in November, 2008, the district did not receive its exit interview until some time in 2009, Mahan said. The audit was part of a discussion Monday between Mahan, speaking on behalf of the district, and the Pierce County Council, which is reviewing an $5-per-parcel property tax assessment that provides $1.2 million of the district’s annual $1.6 million budget. The assessment, approved in 2003, is scheduled to expire at the end of 2009.

Mahan said the auditor’s citations referred to accounting and administrative practices that were “almost entirely minor items” and easily fixable. In the past, he said the auditor’s office gave immediate feedback on anything they found out of line, so that the district could amend them on the spot. Now, because of the lag in time, those practices also will appear in the district’s 2008 audit.

In one example, the New Tribune article states, the auditor found the district had “issued checks of more than $10,000 at least four times – for a total of $265,768 – without the (conservation district) board’s approval as required by policy between Sept. 25, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2007. The audit also identified 95 smaller checks totaling $150,020 that weren’t approved properly.”

Mahan asserted that the board had approved the expenditures in the district’s budget and had approved the contracts for the work. The practice had been OK’d in earlier audits, and Mahan said other conservation districts in the state continue it. His office changed the practice to comply with the auditor’s recommendation as soon as they received the report.

Mahan said he feels his office is being singled out by the auditor. He added that the lag in reporting time makes it hard to respond to findings in a timely way. Up until a couple years ago, the district would be audited in June or July and receive its exit interview in August.

“This practice has not raised any red flags for them before. I would have been nice if they would have told us in advance,” Mahan said. “I don’t know why my district is being singled out, and I don’t know why they’ve changed the philosophy in the way they deal with us.”

“We take the audit seriously, and we’ve addressed just about all the things they have a problem with. It’s just the report tends to inflate the seriousness of the issues, and the reports come late. So I’m trying to fix things that happened over a year ago.”

Mahan is confident the County Council will renew the $5 assessment. The district helps landowners conserve resources and farmers preserve their way of life. It recently helped fund a mobile meat processing unit that will benefit Kitsap County.

“There’s a large network of organizations that rely on this funding. A lot of good comes of it,” Mahan said.
Here are the auditor’s report: