Three small Washington governments declared unauditable

Oct 29, 2020

Today, the Office of the Washington State Auditor declared three small local governments unauditable, placing them on the path for possible dissolution. Each of the governments had gone for years without either filing its annual financial reports or cooperating with independent audits, both of which are required by law.

These three governments received a report on unauditable government.

  • Pacific County Fire Protection District No. 7. This district has not submitted its financial reports since 2014, and its three commissioners have not responded to auditors' requests for the information necessary for an audit.
  • Snohomish Dike and Drainage Improvement District No. 7. This district has only one of the required three commissioners. The other two commissioner positions are vacant. It has not filed its annual financial reports for a decade, but it continues to collect taxes.
  • Waitsburg Coppei Flood Control District. This district is no longer functioning; it has not passed a tax levy, and its three-member board of directors has been vacant for several years. It has not filed a financial report in 11 years.

“Today's reports are a reminder that there are still governments in Washington that cannot be audited, which is a concern for everyone who believes in government accountability,” said State Auditor Pat McCarthy. “Since we've been shining a light on the problem of unauditable governments, we've seen many step forward for an independent review by our office. We see this progress as positive. Our ultimate goal is to see every government be audited.”

In 2019, McCarthy authorized a new report type, like those issued today, that declares a government unauditable and refers it to the Washington Attorney General's Office for possible legal action. In addition, the Legislature passed a law this year establishing consequences for failing to participate in audits, including possible withholding of tax revenue or dissolution of the unauditable government.

In May 2019, the State Auditor's Office identified 40 governments that had not filed their financial reports and had not responded to requests for audits for several years. Since then, six reports on unauditable governments have been issued. Today, 11 governments are identified as unauditable in this updated, interactive report.