Town financial management soundAuditors say deficiencies detected at B.I. School
Auditors Susan R. Johnson and Danielle Santamaria, representing the firm LGCD, LLP of Providence, pronounced the Town of New Shoreham’s budgeting process “sound” at a special town council meeting Monday afternoon, December 3, and praised the tax collection rate, 97.3 percent, as a “very, very terrific rate.” Johnson said that many towns have rates in the low 90s and even 80s.
The town’s net assests increased by $1,418,909 in fiscal year 2012. Revenues came from taxes (56 percent), grants and contributions (18 percent) and charges for goods and services provided (26 percent). The total in net assets at the end of fiscal year 1012 was $30,671,320.
Financial reports for the Sewer and Water Funds, the Island Free Library and the Block Island School were included in the town’s audit. The library received a “Control deficiency” communication, described as a mild deficiency, on its trustees’ account. Johnson noted their reporting to the town is not done on a timely basis and the town’s finance director, Amy Land, repeatedly has to “go get it.” Land said each fall the process is better, and she hopes the library maintains consistency through the year.
Block Island School Fund
A more serious, “significant deficiency” was detected in the Block Island School’s general ledger maintenance and reconciliation. The auditors said reconciliation was not being done on a timely basis. The school also was found to have a “material weakness” in that the auditors had to perform additional accounting services for them to complete the audit.
Block Island School Finance Director Renee Meyer said the reconciliation in the comments was for transfers of money between the school and the town. In addition, School Committee President William Padien told the Times, $10,000 had been taken from the previous year’s budget and used to pay for something in the 2012 year. The accountants said they could not do that.
According to the audit report, Superintendent Robert Hicks will meet with the Finance Director monthly to review reports and “a procedure had been implemented to review accounts and account balances with the town’s finance director on a monthly basis.”
Water and Sewer Funds
The performance of the Water Fund, Johnson said, was much improved over last year. Though the Sewer Fund lost less than the previous year with additional feed lines and rate increases, it still needs to increase revenue.
Sewer Commission Chair Peter McNerney attended the meeting and asked whether refunding their debt at a lower rate would help. Land told him shortening the number of years of the loan would do so.
The Town Council voted to accept the auditors’ report.