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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 3, 2009

Fund balance $30K too high, auditor gives BKW an A–

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — The Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District received an A– from Neil LaMere, who presented an independent audit to the school board this month.

“The fund balance situation here is adequate,” said LaMere at the Nov. 19 school board meeting, during the presentation on West and Company’s state-required audit of the school district.

The district has $821,137 in its unexpended fund balance, or about 4.1 percent of the current budget, according to the district office. This puts BKW about $30,000 over the 4-percent state-set limit.

The audit, which covered the year ending on June 30, 2009, reported that the district has $3,515,076 in net assets, and has maintained an A2 credit rating from Moody’s.

“Overall, I was very comfortable with the audit,” said Interim Superintendent Kim LaBelle this week.

Net assets are $4,175,904 less than on July 1, 2008, of which $3,407,305 can be attributed to new requirements by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) for the recording of post-employment health insurance benefits for retirees.

In May, district voters passed the current $19.8-million budget on its first vote.

The total cost of all governmental activities for the year audited was $24,756,833, making up 83 percent of total expenditures in the district, and consisting mostly of educational, supervisory, and transportation costs.

Of that total, $250,660 were financed by users of the district’s programs, and $925,986 were financed by the state and federal government; most of the remaining costs were covered by district taxpayers and unallocated state aid.

In closing, West and Company addressed three problems with the district’s financial statements, the first being the $30,000 of excess in its fund balance: “We recommend that district management and the board develop a plan to reduce the unreserved, undesignated fund balance to statutory levels,” reads the audit.

The second issue related to extracurricular student activities; more specifically, the audit found that some disbursement orders were missing required signatures from a faculty advisor or student treasurer of the group.

“The signature wasn’t there because students weren’t there over the summer,” LaBelle said.

Additionally, the audit found that two student clubs had negative unexpended fund balances, which LaBelle attributed to unsuccessful fund-raising efforts by the groups.

“But they’re participating now in a fund-raiser to make up that difference,” LaBelle said.

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