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Auditors issue critical report for Pullman-Moscow airport

| August 5, 2020 9:49 AM

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Washington state auditors have issued a critical report on the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, saying bookkeepers used outdated accounting templates and misreported some figures by millions of dollars in recent years.

The Spokesman-Review reports airport and city officials say those errors have been corrected and could have been caught much sooner, but auditors didn’t look at the airport’s financial statements for nearly a decade.

After reviewing the airport’s books for the first time since 2010, the state auditor’s office issued its report in July, saying the airport “did not have effective internal controls in place to ensure accurate and reliable financial reporting.”

The office cited staff turnover and lack of training as causes for the errors, which included failing to report a short-term loan on the airport’s general ledger and recording more than $4.2 million in federal grant expenditures in the wrong fiscal year.

The airport has four full-time and four part-time employees, and its operating budget is usually less than the $2 million needed to trigger a full review of its year-end financial reports, said Tony Bean, the airport’s executive director.

Only in recent years has the budget exceeded that threshold. That’s due to a $154 million runway expansion and realignment project funded by various grants.

“The work was getting done and submitted to the state auditors for their review,” said Mike Urban, the city of Pullman’s finance director, who prepares the airport’s financial statements. “But because it didn’t meet a threshold for them, they never read the financials until all these dollars started rolling through.”

“If we don’t meet the threshold, they don’t look,” Bean said. As a result, “we were bumping along assuming that we were doing everything correctly,” he said.