County Approves 2018 Audit Results

By Leah Williams

The Washington County Board heard a summary of the 2018 fiscal year audit during its regular meeting on Tuesday, June 11, and while some of the news was positive, the board was cautioned about its financial future.

Gary Malawy delivered the results of the 2018 audit, and he stated that the results were listed as a clean audit, the ending windfall at the conclusion of last year is not nearly as positive as it may seem.

“What is concerning to me is that even though it’s $518,000, Prairie State represents over a million,” Malawy said. “So without Prairie State [ashpile money], Washington County lost $603,000.”

Prairie State Energy Campus is a 1,600 megawatt base load, coal-fired electrical power station and coal mine located near Marissa.

Malawy explained that years ago, previous Washington County board members had entered into an agreement with Prairie State officials to use the money for infrastructure and road condition improvements. He added that those funds had also helped provided needed improvements to the renovated county courthouse and the building of the Washington County Justice Center.

“Washington County has done a good job over the years conserving the money that Prairie State has sent in our direction,” he said.

While there is no indication that Prairie State Energy Campus is threatening to close, Malawy said he is reminded of when the previous county board members visited with an ill-fated coal mine plant and the impact that closure had on that community.

“One of the things to think about was when the old Finance Committee visited a power plant that had shut down, and we were looking for questions to ask these people,” he said. “They told us that if you are lucky enough to get one, the thing you will have to prepare for is the day that it shuts down.”

Malawy suggested the board continue to monitor its spending, especially in the months leading up to the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. He said the board could look at surrounding counties and finding ways to cut.

“When Prairie State shuts down, we are going to face some very serious issues,” he said. “I hope they are here for another 30 years, but Prairie State money has been loaning it to the general fund, and that is not really supposed to be happening.”

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