Audit points to Elizabethton’s leaky water system as top issue

11:20 am | December 28, 2012

Audits sometimes point to accounting issues, process errors and other arcane matters, but for Elizabethton, the focus was on leaky pipes and software issues.

A recent audit of the financial statements of the City of Elizabethton and the Elizabethton Electric Department for the fiscal year that ended in June 2012 uncovered two current year findings and two findings from the previous audit year.

The audit’s finding for the city’s statement – a prior-year finding – involved excessive water loss from the city water department’s infrastructure, while the Electric Department’s two current-year findings stem from software issues linked to the department’s consolidation into the city financial system.

The Electric Department also had one prior-year finding, for audit adjustments.

Finance Director Jerome Kitchens said the “No. 1” thing found in the audit was the city’s water loss.

The city had a water loss of 55.7 percent in the past financial year, which was up from 54.9 percent last year. Kitchens explained that water loss was an audit finding because the State of Tennessee Utility Management Review Board sets a recommendation of no more than 35 percent loss.

“This is a major problem and it will continue to be a finding until the infrastructure is improved,” Kitchens said. “The water loss is a long-term problem that we are looking at. It is not something that can be turned around overnight. The fact that the water loss is over 35 percent is significant.”

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