The Harford County Council has granted an extension on the completion of the county's annual financial statement by several months.
County Auditor Chrystal Moore made the request during the council's meeting in Bel Air Tuesday, explaining that her office is in the process of getting all data collected from agencies that spend county funds, even if they're not technically part of Harford County government, and summarizing it for the council.
"The county auditor is required to make sure a financial audit is performed for all county agencies that expend county funds," Moore explained Thursday. These agencies include the school system, public libraries, volunteer fire companies, the Humane Society of Harford County, among others, she said.
These agencies, Moore added, make up less than 2 percent of what the county spends annually, but still receive county funds. The requirement that these agencies submit independent audits of their finances to the county has been part of the county charter since its adoption by Harford voters in 1972.
One of the controlling charter sections reads: "All records and files pertaining to the receipt and expenditure of County funds by all officers, agents, and employees of the County and all agencies thereof, shall at all times be open to the inspection of the County Auditor who shall promptly call to the attention of the Council and the County Executive any irregularity or improper procedure which may be discovered."
The audit is typically due 120 days after the end of the fiscal year on June 30, but the extension granted Tuesday moves that deadline to Dec. 31.
The charter states: "The County Auditor shall, not later than four months after the close of each fiscal year, prepare and submit to the Council and to the County Executive, a complete financial audit for the preceding fiscal year of all agencies that receive or disburse County funds."
"Smaller groups don't always get them [audits] done in time," Moore said, hence the extension request. Though she expects to receive the necessary information before the end of the calendar year, she added: "We're taking the right steps so we're making sure we're in line with what the county requires."
Council President Billy Boniface said during the meeting that this is not the first year the county has done an audit like this.
Patterson Mill fire station
The council approved to transfer 2.5 acres of land on Patterson Mill Road to the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company for the substation on the corner of Route 924. The substation, built with county funds, is nearing completion.
Residents were given the opportunity to testify on the bill, as the county administration failed to send letters alerting adjacent property owners to the public hearing earlier this month. No one from the public spoke, and no council members had additional comments on the matter.
The property was purchased for $2.7 million in the 1990s and was subdivided for what eventually became the site of Patterson Mill Middle/High School. A remnant of the site not used for the school facilities is the firehouse site.
Mary Chance, director of administration, said at a previous council meeting that the Patterson Mill firehouse project is the first time the county "has completely funded the building of a fire station."
Havre de Grace High School field facilities
A resolution was introduced to transfer funds to the Board of Education to serve as additional funding for field improvements at Havre de Grace High School's James Harris Stadium.
County Executive David Craig previously agreed to allocate up to $400,000 to complete improvements at the field, such as a canopy over the concession stand and various related paving projects.
The school board originally set aside $1 million for the project, but bids came in at $1,313,770. If the council approves the resolution, the county will contribute the remaining funds
Capital projects transfer
Also introduced Tuesday was a resolution to make amendments to previously authorized bond bills, Treasurer Kathryn Hewitt told the council.
This involves projects approved for bond funding that the school board has requested over the last two years and, in the interim, there have been changes that required more or less funding for different projects.
Bonds haven't been sold for any of projects yet, Hewitt said, and she wants to correct the funding allocations, so the bonds are sold for the appropriate projects the money is going toward.
According to county documents, $2,958,272 would be moved around among various school projects, such as an HVAC system for Magnolia Middle School