Town’s financial records in good shape

Fri, 02/09/2018 - 8:30am

The annual audit of the town’s financial reports show no deficiencies or weaknesses in the way local government is keeping and reporting its financial records.

The Town of New Shoreham received this clean opinion at a recent meeting regarding its financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. 

Two auditors, Christine Kolev and Kyle Connors, from the Fall River-based accounting firm Hauge, Sahady & Co., P.C., characterized the town’s financial statements as being “presented fairly in all material aspects,” and that no deficiencies or “material weaknesses” were discovered during their review, while also commending the accounting of Town Finance Director Amy Land and Block Island School Finance Director Melanie Reeves. The auditors’ report also indicated the town’s financials have been handled in compliance with best standards and practices. The Town Council unanimously approved (3-0) the audit report at its meeting on Dec. 29, 2017. 

The auditors’ report noted that as of June 30, 2017, the town’s net value was $34,148,998, an increase of $1,632,293 over the previous year; the operating and capital budget was $13,441,769; and the town’s total debt increased by $590,775, or 2.5 percent during the current fiscal year. “There is no real significant change” in the town’s long-term debt, said Connors, referencing the $19,644,512 total government-wide balance. The town’s total government-wide balance as of July 1, 2016 was slightly higher at $21,469,027.

Connors told the Town Council that there were “no issues... as it relates to your internal controls.” Internal controls are methods for protecting assets and preventing theft.

Connors said one notable item was the town’s purchase of two-thirds of the stock of the Block Island Power Company. Since that is listed on the books as a $1.8 million short-term investment asset, “there’s no real effect on your bottom line,” said Connors. “I know there are a lot of questions with how that’s going to be handled.”

BIPCo President Jeffery Wright told The Block Island Times that he “can’t speak to the Town’s reporting. The intent though is for the Town to be paid back either by BIPCo, or by the new Block Island Utility District, which is the more likely scenario. Right now the Block Island Utility District is asking CoBank and National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation for financing to purchase the Town’s $1.8 million two-third shares, and Sara McGinnes’s one-third shares.”

Town Manager Ed Roberge described the audit as “a commendable report, and the staff and Town Council should be pleased with their efforts. Any time you have an auditors’ report that doesn’t establish any material inconsistencies or deficiencies, it’s a good report.”