Volusia County’s Votran transportation system, the county’s three tourism advertising authorities — including the one in West Volusia — and cybersecurity issues will get some additional attention from the county’s internal auditor, it was decided recently.
While no problems are suspected, the Volusia County Council and the county auditor agreed that those areas are priorities for auditing to ensure that the county’s internal controls are sound.
After his hiring last year, Internal Auditor Jonathan Edwards was directed by the County Council to conduct financial audits of the county’s tax-supported ECHO and Volusia Forever funds.
With those audits nearly completed, Edwards presented the council May 5 with an audit plan for the rest of the fiscal year. After conducting a risk assessment of the county’s divisions and programs, Edwards chose those three areas to audit because he said they posed the greatest possibility for risk and liability to the county.
By risk, Edwards means the potential for loss to a division due to error, fraud, inefficiency, failure to comply with statutory requirements or actions that may have a negative impact on the county. Edwards said the risk analysis will regularly track areas that have been audited and identify areas for future audits.
“This is the first evaluation of the county’s audit risk and will be continuously updated and modified as time goes on,” Edwards wrote in a memo.
Votran is funded in part by state and federal grants that come with restrictions on how the money can be used.
The Halifax Area, Southeast Volusia and West Volusia Tourism advertising authorities spend bed taxes from hotels and other accommodations to market and promote their regions as tourist and event destinations.
The three council-appointed authorities have a combined annual budget of approximately $12 million, of which about $800,000 is for the West Volusia bureau.
Due to the nature and uniqueness of cybersecurity issues, an outside auditor with expertise in that area will conduct that audit. Edwards will oversee the process.
The findings of the audits will be simultaneously reported to the County Council and county manager.
Doug Little, chairman of the West Volusia tourism bureau, said his board welcomes the internal audit.
“It is just one more check to make certain that our Advertising Authority is in compliance. It also reinforces our compliance with Sunshine Laws, promotes total transparency and can act as a check and balance for our external auditor,” Little said. “We have a county attorney and a representative from the county manager’s office at each of our board meetings that have been able to give us advice over time that has been beneficial. Perhaps one more check may be beneficial, even though our external auditors have not had any finding in my recent memory.”
The internal auditor has the authority to perform random, unannounced and surprise audits of cash collections throughout county departments.