New Milford audit reveals familiar problem
NEW MILFORD -- The town's auditors have again found problems with the town's financial record keeping.
Grant Thornton LLC, the new auditing firm, found material weaknesses in the 2011-12 books that were the same as those found in previous years by the firm BlumShapiro.
BlumShapiro audited the town's books for 2009-10 and 2010-11. That firm was let go by the town after a contentious year of auditing interactions with town Finance Director Ray Jankowski and his staff.
Grant Thornton's auditors found seven "material weaknesses in internal controls over financial reporting," according to the June 30, 2012, audit reports.
They were caused, auditors said, by deficiencies in the way town and Board of Education books were closed. Audits going back to 2001 had to be examined by Grant Thornton. And audit adjustments had to be made.
The audit finally arrived Feb. 28, affecting the budget process. It was being presented to a joint meeting of the Town Council and Board of Finance on Wednesday.
Auditors found that the Board of Education and town books have not been reconciled for several years. There was no formal closeout procedure on a monthly basis that would assure reconciliation.
Questions have been raised about whether this problem is affecting the budget process. Are projected revenues and department projections off as a result?
"As a very large taxpayer, I am very pleased with the way funds are handled," Pilla said. "A strong fund balance is what puts the town in a good position to bond municipal projects at low rates. And the unassigned fund balance has grown over the last decade."
Jankowski said that new financial software will solve many of the issues.
"Most of the money for the software is already in the town's side of the budget," Jankowski said, "$100,000 is there with $23,000 more needed."
Mayor Pat Murphy said the two departments will be brought onto the same accounting system.
"The change to the new software over the next nine months will give more access to balancing the books and bring more transparency to the results," Murphy said.
Town Councilman Peter Mullen noted, "It's been said the software would be in the budget for the last two years. It's what you do in the end that counts."
Mullen said he's learned that the Board of Education sends over financial reports on a monthly basis and the town often waits to the end of the fiscal year to go over them.
"The auditors say the weakness is in the internal control over financial reporting. Internal control is the Finance Department," Mullen added. "Why this has not been taken care of for all these years, I don't know."