ESD No. 2: Audit to be presented to emergency district board

Published on Saturday, 22 March 2014 21:40 - Written by Adam Russell

Residents will get a look at where Emergency Services District No. 2 stands operationally and financially when it’s 2013 audit is presented to its board at 7 p.m. Monday.

Board members will receive a presentation by outside auditors at ESD No. 2 Headquarters, 14128 Texas Highway 110 in Whitehouse.

ESD No. 2 includes Arp, Bullard, Chapel Hill, Dixie, Flint-Gresham, Jackson Heights, Noonday, Red Springs, Troup, Whitehouse and Winona volunteer fire departments. The five-member district board sets the entity’s tax rate and budget and monitors district revenues, assets and expenses.

In the district’s 2012 report, auditors noted six “significant” deficiencies within its financial policies and procedures. Correcting the problems would protect taxpayers’ money via internal controls.

Deficiencies include, no internal policy regarding debit card use; failing to prepared board minutes, which documents actions taken; payroll policy controls, such as setting pay rates, job descriptions and supervisory reviews of time sheets; and reimbursement controls for departments.

Treasurer Bill Bellenfant, a former Trinity Mother Frances executive, said those deficiencies have been addressed. He said the board is concentrating on addressing ongoing concerns about reimbursements to departments covering northern Cherokee County.

Chief of Operations Terry Rozell, a retired district chief for Tyler Fire Department, said a preliminary meeting with auditors netted the district compliments regarding progress by departments and the district.

“Auditors seemed pleased with the progress,” he said. “There were fewer issues this year.”

The district has experienced varying degrees of tumult since its 2007 voter-approved inception. Questions have been raised about individual departments’ spending, undocumented reimbursements, construction projects moving forward without adherence to state procurement laws and procedures, and questionable purchases.

The board membership has also experienced more than a dozen premature exits since 2010, via resignation or removal by Smith County Commissioners, which appoints its members. Board positions are expected to be filled in November, after a state law created single-member districts for the two emergency services districts in Smith County.

According to the 2012 audit, ESD No. 2 has more than $2 million in cash on hand, more than $3 million in net assets and $6 million in debt. Bellenfant said around $1 million goes toward debt annually.