Jan to June financial audit

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
carlscpa
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Jan to June financial audit

Postby carlscpa » Tue Jul 08, 2014 3:48 pm

It is my understanding that the Bishop must approve every expense disbursement in the ward. In my ward, and in every ward in the Stake, many expense reimbursement requests are approved by a Bishopric Counselor under oral permission by the Bishop. If this is considered inappropriate in the upcoming audit, every ward will not be in compliance. Also, it is my understanding that the Bishop's approval need not be in writing. How does this affect the above interpretation of the Bishop's oral approval of Counselors approving expenditures?

eblood66
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby eblood66 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:20 pm

carlscpa wrote:It is my understanding that the Bishop must approve every expense disbursement in the ward. In my ward, and in every ward in the Stake, many expense reimbursement requests are approved by a Bishopric Counselor under oral permission by the Bishop. If this is considered inappropriate in the upcoming audit, every ward will not be in compliance. Also, it is my understanding that the Bishop's approval need not be in writing. How does this affect the above interpretation of the Bishop's oral approval of Counselors approving expenditures?

There has to be written approval by the Bishop for every expense. But the written approval doesn't have to happen before the check is written if the bishop has given oral approval. But it such cases the bishop needs to sign something showing that approval afterward (and before the audit).

Personally, I always tried to have written approval beforehand. We only used oral approval (with a later signature) in time critical situations.

allenjpl
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby allenjpl » Wed Jul 09, 2014 11:28 am

carlscpa wrote:It is my understanding that the Bishop must approve every expense disbursement in the ward. In my ward, and in every ward in the Stake, many expense reimbursement requests are approved by a Bishopric Counselor under oral permission by the Bishop. If this is considered inappropriate in the upcoming audit, every ward will not be in compliance. Also, it is my understanding that the Bishop's approval need not be in writing. How does this affect the above interpretation of the Bishop's oral approval of Counselors approving expenditures?


I'm not sure I'm understanding your situation. If the bishops reviewed and approved the expense before telling the counselors it was okay to cut the check, then that's fine, even if the written approval is obtained afterwards. If, on the other hand, the bishop is giving carte blanche to the counselors to approve expenses, and the bishop is only approving things afterwards, that's a problem.

Audit Question No. 8: Did the bishop approve all expenditures before payments were made?
Approvals may be verbal. (Evidence of written authorization will be tested later in the audit.)
If any payment was made before the bishop approved the expenditure, mark “No.”

So if the bishop has given oral permission to his counselors to approve expenses, the ward is not in compliance. The bishop himself must approve the expenses. He can't delegate that responsibility to his counselors.

jasonfitt
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby jasonfitt » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:04 pm

After cutting the check, an expense report prints that the bishop has to sign. It specifically asks for the bishop's signature, so nobody else should be signing it. That is how the bishop approves each expense. I usually cut the check, print the expense report and staple it all together with the receipts. Then I give it to the bishop for his review and to sign the expense report. If he doesn't approve, we can just void the check, but to date he has never done that. That is part of the audit. Our auditor always checks for the bishop's signature on those expense reports.

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aebrown
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby aebrown » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:14 pm

jasonfitt wrote:After cutting the check, an expense report prints that the bishop has to sign. It specifically asks for the bishop's signature, so nobody else should be signing it. That is how the bishop approves each expense. I usually cut the check, print the expense report and staple it all together with the receipts. Then I give it to the bishop for his review and to sign the expense report. If he doesn't approve, we can just void the check, but to date he has never done that. That is part of the audit. Our auditor always checks for the bishop's signature on those expense reports.

Actually, the expense report is NOT a required part of the audit, and your auditor is not following the instructions properly if he requires the expense report. Question 15 of the ward audit form says: "Make sure the bishop has reviewed and authorized the payments by signing at least one of the following: original invoice, original bill, original receipt, or payment request form. The bishop’s signature on the MLS Expense Report is also acceptable proof of his review and authorization."

So it's certainly possible to pass the audit with flying colors even if you discarded every Expense Report (or never even printed them), as long as you have the bishop's signature authorizing each expense. But if you want to use the MLS Expense Report as proof of authorization, that's certainly an acceptable option as well.

drepouille
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby drepouille » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:19 pm

Our previous stake clerks had the habit of printing a new expense report for each check, and stapling it to the check stub and the payment request form. When I was called, I didn't know that was the local policy, so I entered multiple expenses at a time, and printed one expense report for the batch. I thought that made more sense, since it reduced the number of signatures required of the stake president. He still signs every payment request, but now he only signs one expense report per batch.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

jasonfitt
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby jasonfitt » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:56 pm

aebrown wrote:
jasonfitt wrote:After cutting the check, an expense report prints that the bishop has to sign. It specifically asks for the bishop's signature, so nobody else should be signing it. That is how the bishop approves each expense. I usually cut the check, print the expense report and staple it all together with the receipts. Then I give it to the bishop for his review and to sign the expense report. If he doesn't approve, we can just void the check, but to date he has never done that. That is part of the audit. Our auditor always checks for the bishop's signature on those expense reports.

Actually, the expense report is NOT a required part of the audit, and your auditor is not following the instructions properly if he requires the expense report. Question 15 of the ward audit form says: "Make sure the bishop has reviewed and authorized the payments by signing at least one of the following: original invoice, original bill, original receipt, or payment request form. The bishop’s signature on the MLS Expense Report is also acceptable proof of his review and authorization."

So it's certainly possible to pass the audit with flying colors even if you discarded every Expense Report (or never even printed them), as long as you have the bishop's signature authorizing each expense. But if you want to use the MLS Expense Report as proof of authorization, that's certainly an acceptable option as well.


Well, my memory may be a little suspect. The auditor may have just been looking for something with his signature and in our case it's usually the expense report. So I may have gotten it stuck in my head that he required that. In any case, we just use the expense report, but our bishop also usually signs the payment request form too.

jasonfitt
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby jasonfitt » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:59 pm

drepouille wrote:Our previous stake clerks had the habit of printing a new expense report for each check, and stapling it to the check stub and the payment request form. When I was called, I didn't know that was the local policy, so I entered multiple expenses at a time, and printed one expense report for the batch. I thought that made more sense, since it reduced the number of signatures required of the stake president. He still signs every payment request, but now he only signs one expense report per batch.


I used to do that too when I was a new finance clerk. Now I just process multiple checks and print out one expense report per batch. It saves the bishop time signing papers.

jduckett
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby jduckett » Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:58 am

This is exactly what came up in our audit today. We have the reimbursement form, but we've more used it as a guide than as part of the official documentation (we'll include it in our files, but sometimes we would cut a check just based on the receipts given to us).

The wording indicates that expenses need to be approved BEFORE issuing a check. By signing the expense report, he indicates approval, but that signature always follows the printing and, more often than not, the distribution of the check.

Anyway, when the auditor asked the question, I could in good conscience say, "Yes, he gave approval to every expense," since he did sign the expense report that the MLS prints after every expense bath. However, I couldn't say in good conscience that he officially gave approval. Like tithes, I never accept expenses directly from ward members; I only accept from the bishopric. By the wording of the question, it makes me think I should only accept expense requests from the Bishop, or even take it to the level where a signature is required on our reimbursement forms before I print and sign the check.

(I guess the Bishop signing the check would also count, but that signature doesn't end up filed)

I must admit, I'm hesitant on the whole "verbal agreement" thing. I know the auditor, like some of his other questions, just takes my word for it. I would just feel more comfortable if I had proof of it in black and white to hand to the auditor.

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benjamincarleski
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Re: Jan to June financial audit

Postby benjamincarleski » Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:41 am

I will generally accept anything that he has already signed, but also something in my box that was mailed to his address (since he obviously put it or had it put there) and things the counselors or ward clerk give me after I ask them if he has authorized it. I've talked with the bishopric about the need for the bishop to give authorization before I can cut the check, and so they understand I'm not just asking if he is aware of the expense or not. As such, with any one of those three things above I will cut the check, and with the latter two I will usually either fill out a reimbursement form for him to sign later, or just have him sign the expense summary form after I cut the checks.

In our ward at least we have a far greater problem getting the second check signer to actually review the documentation before signing than we do in getting the bishop to pre-authorize any checks. It's always there with the check, but unless I remind them they usually don't look at anything beyond the payee and amount lines.


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