BF Trustees discuss Village Audit

On Tuesday, April 26, the BF Trustees discussed the Village Audit, assessing funds available to the town. Photo provided

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, April 26, the Bellows Falls Village Trustees discussed the FY21 Village Audit with Brittany Gilman of RHR Smith & Company.

Gilman, Director of Support Services, gave an overview, directing the trustees first to the independent audit report’s opinion paragraph. She said, “[We] believe financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects,” which is the best opinion the Village Corporation can receive.

Gilman explained that the balance sheet consisted of governmental funds and non-governmental funds with assets listed in order of most liquid or like cash, to least like cash. The fund balances included: prepaid and inventory, restricted – as in grant funding, committed ­ like those voted on by taxpayers, and unassigned – meaning available for any use.

She said there was $600,000 in the unassigned fund balance of the general fund and said that that was substantial. Gilman suggested this be a point of discussion for the board to set intentions for fund balance and reserves.

She said the fund balance showed revenues exceeding expenditures. Gilman explained that proprietary funds were the water and wastewater and both operate on fees for service. She said the net position refers to fund balance and both water and wastewater had a positive unrestricted net position. Gilman noted that from an operating perspective, both funds are losing that position.

She highlighted the benefit of the long-term debt note, which included summarization, dates, descriptions, and schedules.

She directed the board to the management letter which gave suggestions on internal controls and procedures with opportunities for responses and improvements.

Finally, Gilman explained the summary statement that showed they believe things are fairly stated with an unmodified opinion, which again was the best opinion the Village Corporation could receive.

She said both NEMRC’s Cynthia Stoddard and Finance Director Alyssa Harlow cleaned up many of the problems. Gilman said some of the issues included inaccurate budget posting and payroll reconciliation which have been corrected. She explained that it is “unusual to have an entity have zero comments in the management letter.”

Municipal Manager Scott Pickup said highlighted problems in the audit were upper management issues. He said they worked with Stoddard and Harlow to create additional safeguards to daily practices, ensuring that current policies are maintained. Pickup said the challenges were addressed with changes to staff and internal control. He said the income tax issues required more time and refiling and he said they will create additional policies to make sure those problems won’t happen again.

McAuliffe acknowledged the contribution Stoddard made and asked Gilman how it was working with Harlow. Gilman said Harlow was responsive and said she was “very concerned about [the books and audit] being right.”

The Trustees meet for their regular meeting on Tuesday, May 10 at 6 p.m. with the Annual Informational meeting to follow at 7 p.m. Annual Election is Tuesday, May 17 from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

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