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Document: Cole County 2020 Audit

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Cole County received a "clean" audit for 2020, county commissioners learned at their regular meeting Tuesday.

A clean audit means the financial statements of the county have been found to be accurate, complete and in accordance with accounting principals.

Williams Keepers Accountants officials said the county had revenues of more than $57.5 million in 2020, compared to more than $44.9 million in 2019.

Expenses rose from $47.3 million in 2020, compared to just more than $39 million in 2019. All accounting records were found to be in good order.

Williams Keepers found no material weaknesses in the county's internal controls, but made recommendations such as better tracking of county property. The firm also suggested better notification for when new county employees come on board or leave positions to help with potential security issues regarding access to county software.

In a recommendation for the Cole County Assessor's Office, Williams Keepers officials noted, under state statute, real estate reassessments should be performed every two years.

The auditors tested a sample of 10 real estate tax bills for five consecutive years when reassessments should have been performed — 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

During those years, there were only two changes to assessed valuation made on the 10 sample properties, audit findings showed. One was for a change in assessed valuation due to new construction on a property, which was valued at $5,130 in 2013 and rose to $89,450 in 2015.

The other change in assessed valuation was due to the sale of the property between reassessment years. That occurred in a property valued at $33,350 in 2017 and $40,720 in 2019.

With so few changes found on these properties, the auditors recommended the assessor perform real estate assessments every two years in accordance with state statute.

The Cole County Assessor's Office concluded about 100 informal hearings with residential property owners regarding assessments in 2019, according to information from Assessor Chris Estes' office.

Notices were sent or 1,700 of 36,234 parcels in Cole County. While 1,350 properties saw a value decrease, the rest remained the same.

Due to the May 2019 tornado that hit Jefferson City and parts of Cole County, Estes said, his office determined 42 residences were uninhabitable.

In 2019, the Cole County Board of Equalization denied appeals to the assessed valuation figures for Walmart Supercenter stores on West Stadium Boulevard and Supercenter Drive as well as the company's Sam's Club store on Stoneridge Parkway. The board also approved assessor figures on four commercial properties: Lowe's on Missouri Boulevard, Hy-Vee on West Truman Boulevard, Orscheln Farm and Home on Missouri, and Capitol Plaza Hotel on West McCarty Street.

"We have properties that go up and down all the time, and changes can be due to a variety of factors," Estes said.

2021 is a reassessment year, and Estes said his office must certify values by July 1, in accordance with state law. Appeals to the Board of Equalization are due by July 12.

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