Braver PC to review school audit
Braver PC to review school audit
NORTH SMITHFIELD - The School Department may have averted the Town Council's plan to end its contract with Nadeau Wadovick LLP early and combine the financial audits of school and municipal government this year, but it looks like the town's auditor will still be examining district books.
The Town Council voted 4-1 to ask auditors from Braver PC to review the School Department's 2013 audit at a cost not to exceed $9,000.
The decision comes after efforts by the council to immediately unify town and school auditing systems were rebuffed by a School Committee in the final year of a three-year contract. North Smithfield is the only municipality in the state that hires separate auditing firms for the job, used annually to ensure that towns are utilizing proper accounting practices and complying with state law.
This year, after Budget Committee Chairman Michael Clifford complained that he was having difficulty obtaining information from the School Department needed to make a financing recommendation, the Town Council hired Principal Robert Civetti from Braver to conduct a limited review of the district's audit from last year, looking specifically at encumbrances. The town also sent a letter to the School Committee asking that they terminate the district's contract with Nadeau Wadovick, a change allowed under law, as governed by the state auditor general.
The committee, however, said no, voting unanimously to retain Nadeau Wadovick's services for the final year of the contract.
Member William Connell, the committee's liaison to the council, indicated that the board was willing to consider the change for the next fiscal year.
According to Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton, while the auditor general has indicated that the town should use a single firm, state officials would not force the department to abandon a contract that had previously been approved.
Civetti, meanwhile, found that in 2012, the department's outstanding liabilities were overstated by around $187,000, among other audit issues. The service by Braver was paid for out of an account specifically dedicated to extraordinary auditing expenses at a cost of $5,200.
Hamilton said that line item still has $9,000, and that the funds could be used for the proposed review of Nadeau Wadovick's audit for 2013. Braver's complete audit of municipal books in 2012 cost $26,000.
Council member Paul Zwolenski made a motion to approach Braver with a request that the company review the 2013 school budget and come up with agreed upon procedures and an estimate for the services.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 4-1 with Councilor Edward Yazbak voting against the process.
The council further discussed the immediate need for the single audit, and the potential to push the School Department to utilize one firm.
Hamilton read a clause in the state law governing the process. "School Districts, which are part of the primary government of a municipality shall be included in a municipality's post audit and shall not be required to obtain a separate post audit," it stated.
Yazbak said that the Nadeau Wadovick report is incorporated each year into the town's audit, a process that technically complies with the law. Plans to combine the audits, he said, should wait until next year.
"Everybody's saying they want to do this," said Yazbak. "Maybe we could mend some fences and try to get some collaboration."
"Why wouldn't they not want to do this?" asked Zwolenski.
"I think it seems true that all sides would like to do a combined one. We want to work this out in a mutually satisfactory way," said Council President John Flaherty.