By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist
The Wyoming Department of Audit has compiled a list of 370 counties, cities, towns and special districts in Wyoming that have failed to comply with state law requiring reporting of revenues received and expenditures made during fiscal year 2023.
The Oct. 5 letter from Department of Audit Director Justin Chavez to State Auditor Kristi Racines triggers the withholding of state grant or loan payments to every noncompliant entity until those entities submit the required reporting.
The list of noncompliant entities includes:
43 Water districts
21 Fire districts
20 Recreation boards
19 Joint powers boards
17 Irrigation districts
15 Predator districts
15 Cemetery districts
13 Hospital districts
9 Fair boards
7 Solid waste districts
7 Conservation districts
6 Cooperative education boards
5 Airport boards
3 Travel/tourism boards
Lincoln County has 33 entities on the list, followed by Carbon County with 31. In contrast, Niobrara County has the least number of entities on the noncompliant list with three, followed by Sublette County’s five.
This summer, Sublette County hosted two well-attended free board training sessions to certify public officials on their duties, including compliance with state reporting requirements. Training of all members of a governing body of these boards is required under a state law enacted in 2022 but giving public officials until July 2024 to receive such training.
Under state law, special districts, towns, counties, state agencies and other entities are required to file an annual financial report, with the complexity of the financial report dependent upon the level of revenues or expenditures. For example, if the entity spends more than $1 million a year it must have an annual audit. An entity handling less than $25,000 needs only to report its revenues and expenditures and provide proof of its ending cash balance. These reports must be submitted to the State Audit department as well as the local county clerk’s office.
Entities that fail to comply with reporting requirements by Nov. 30 face not just the loss of funding, but the possibility of being dissolved.
All public officers are required to complete the newly mandated training program within one year of assuming office or assuming responsibility for handling the accounts of their office. The Audit Department has established a waiver system for those with degrees or certification that meet state requirements such as accounting or finance degrees.
The Wyoming Department of Audit is offering a free, one-day course (both in person and virtual) on October 24, 2023. For more information, go here.
The Wyoming Department of Audit website includes links to an assortment of approved public officer training programs.
For public officials who “willfully neglects or refuses to handle his accounts in the manner required” or fail to comply with the minimum training requirements, the Wyoming Department of Audit “may request the governing body with oversight over the public officer or other appropriate authority to remove the public officer or provide increased oversight.”
Correction: A previous version of this column referred to the online program offered by the Wyoming Association of Special Districts as being an approved training program. The program is not approved by the Wyoming Department of Audit.
Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.