The Snoop – Oct. 25

The SnoopgsBy Sue Curry

Running a large business and maintaining success and financial balance is an awesome task.  For many, especially in Ava and Douglas County, it is a way of life as this community has many self-employed entrepreneurs and business owners –– real estate agencies, clothing stores,  insurance agents, home improvement and repair services, tree trimming and roofing companies, and many other independently owned businesses.  

One item important to these business owners is an accurate accounting of the bottom line.  

But the process doesn’t stop there –– it is also important to know profit margins.  To have a grasp on whether or not a specific division is profitable and worth growing.  Numbers also reveal if a segment of business is running efficiently or falling short, or if employees are overpaid or under paid. 

Knowing these factors are not only important, they are crucial.  

Most generally, speculation and opinion about financials may not be totally accurate. They still stem from assumption.   

In business, management must be familiar with numbers as they tell where change must occur.  It provides insight as to what area needs to become more efficient and productive, or where the business process is failing.  

Two solid recommendations frequently made to business start-ups is –– keep your ego in check and listen to others. Keep track of everything and manage by the numbers.

According to The Strategic CFO, an audit verifies that accounting records accurately and properly represent the financial condition of the company base. 

Why is that important? 

Because verified financials reveal if the operation is running at peak performance.  An independent audit provides the tools to verify if in-house financials are correct and credible.  

An independent audit adds credence to the validity of in-house reports. Most business entities require proof of accuracy, as opine statements are not accepted. 

For example, if an individual goes to the bank to apply for a loan, the loan officer requires documented evidence the applicant has a job and earns adequate  income.  The banker requires actual verification of income, which means a pay stub or employer’s letter of commitment must be presented. Just because the applicant says he has a job is not enough.  

In turn, if an individual goes hunting and runs into a conservation agent in the field, the hunter will likely be asked to provide proof of a current hunting permit.  A hunter may also be asked to prove compliance with regulations by having to show the number of rounds in his shot gun, and his kill.  Voicing compliance is not good enough, as actual proof is required. 

And, proof is what is needed to put an end to the on-going, never-ending transportation issue at Ava R-I Schools.  

In the meeting Oct. 18, three board members –– Deana Parsick, Troy Tredway, and Lowell Strong –– voted to engage an independent audit of the contracted transportation system to attain answers to the ongoing divisiveness between board members.  Answers to questions, such as –– Whether or not the contracted bus service department is efficient?  Whether or not contracted bus drivers are overpaid, underpaid or accurately paid?  If the system is effective?  Is it best for the school?

According to Parsick, Tredway, and Strong, the purpose of an audit would be to accurately establish whether or not the current agreement is financially effective and efficient.  

An audit would likely put an end to unsubstantiated statements proffered by board members who continue to argue with opinion and speculation, rather than valid numbers.  

According to Dr. Jason Dial, an independent audit of the bus contract services will cost $5,000.  However, in the meeting, dissenting board members –– Mark Henry, Mike Stewart, Bart Ellison –– said this expense would be an unwise use of school money.  

Well, I disagree. This board has voted to spend money on items far less important. 

In my opinion, as a news reporter who has been covering school board meetings for nearly 15 years, the money would be well spent if it succeeds in putting an end to this incessant, unproductive bickering over transportation.  A solution to this issue is long over due, and it is time for opinion spewing and unwarranted speculation between board members to come to an end. 

If an independent audit will determine whether or not the system is efficiently working, along with pros and cons, then why not? 

If by auditing in-house numbers transparency is gained as to whether or not contracted bus services are operating at peak performance –– why would anyone not vote for that? 

Inability of the board to resolve this issue, and their determination to maintain longstanding stonewalling, is childish.   

This injudiciousness is of no benefit to community or students.  

The board has a responsibility to overcome this impasse.  Both sides need to come together, agree to be constructive, possibly by engaging an audit as a tool –– and make an effort to reach a consensus and move on. 

Enough is enough.