It’s always a good sign when an audit report says: “no findings.”

That was the word from Melissa Harrison of the Jonesboro accounting firm Thomas, Speight and Noble, CPAs to the board of the Northeast Arkansas Solid Waste Management District (NEARSWMD) at its Nov. 16 meeting.

The results of the audit had been of concern to some board members given the turbulence at top management that saw the arrest May 6 and dismissal May 7 of then-executive director Jason Wolfenbarger. “Did you look at the early part of this year?” asked Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp. Harrison replied the audit had covered all of 2020 up through the end of April 2021.

According to the report, there was no evidence of any financial irregularities during the report period. “In our opinion, the financial statements [during the period covered by the report] present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of [NEARSWMD] ... in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America,” read the report.

Harrison actually clarified her comments to note a single finding. “It’s the segregation of duties,” she said, “and with an organization as small as yours, you’re going to see it every year.” As noted in the report, the district management “did not segregate accounting duties including initiating, receipting, depositing, disbursing and recording transactions amongst employees” to reduce the risks of fraud and error.

The audit report recommended that such financial accounting duties be segregated to reduce the chances of such fraud or error. But in her comments, Harrison acknowledged that in an organization with a staff as small as NEARSWMD, segregation of such duties is not practical.

The board accepted the audit report unanimously.

The district also heard from executive director Joe Pence that in recognition of the need to receive trash from member cities and counties on Friday, Nov. 26, the district landfill would remain open all day. The landfill will be running a full and a partial crew that day.

It will be closed on Nov. 25, Thanksgiving Day.

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