WALLA WALLA — The State Auditor’s Office reported it was in error when it included a reference to a Citizens Hotline investigation in a Walla Walla County Rural Library District audit.
Auditor’s Office officials said the Citizens Hotline investigation resulted in their lowest level of corrective action, thus the investigation should not have been referenced in the Library District’s 2008-2011 audit.
“As far as the reporting information on our report, any of the issues in the hotline that we referenced that were addressed with management would have been addressed as an exit item. And so those aren’t included in our audit report,” Deputy Director of State and Local Audit Kelly Collins said.
According to Collins, the lowest level exit items only require a verbal discussion to management and are not documented or referenced in audit reports.
The next highest level of exit items would result in a letter to management and a reference to that letter in the audit report.
The highest level is where findings are actually included into the audit.
While no official findings were reported by the Auditor’s Office, the response letter to the group that called for the investigation — Library Users Coalition — shows the Auditor’s Office “found documentation showing District Board Members engaged in email discussions and approved the letters outside of an open public meeting.”
On Feb. 2, the Union-Bulletin published an article on the results of the Citizens Hotline investigation.
While that article accurately reported the results, it also inaccurately reported that the Auditor’s Office had made two findings.
The word “findings” is generally used to represent negative results that are included in auditor reports.
After the article was published, the Union-Bulletin received numerous letters noting that the Rural Library District received no findings against it on its last audit.
At one point the Auditor’s office had included a reference to the Citizens Hotline investigation in its audit report, which is when the Union-Bulletin became aware of the investigation.
The inclusion of that reference in the audit was deemed to be an error and removed from the audit report.
“We did not issue a ‘hotline report’ related to the WW Rural Library, instead we issued a ‘hotline letter’ to respond to the citizen concerns. If we had issued a ‘hotline report’ it would have been available on our website. However, ‘hotline letters’ are not available on our website,” Collin wrote in an email to the Union-Bulletin.
The debate still continues between the Rural Library District and the Library Users Coalition,
In today’s Perspective section, Rural Library District Director Aletha Bonebrake and Library Users Coalition legal advisor Dan Clark voice their opinions regarding the future of library services in the Walla Walla Valley.