Here is an exchange between SAU chairman, Peter Bealo, and myself tonight following my attempt to ask the SAU auditor some pointed questions:
From your experience last year, I believe with TRSB, you know better than to try and contact the SAU55 or TRSD auditor.
They will not be returning your call. The Board, as a whole, can discuss issues with the auditor should they decide to do so. I cannot allow one member to act for him/her self in contacting them.
My suggestion is to allow the SAU Board to meet, if the Board is unsatisfied with Mr. Stokinger’s report of the audit, then bring up a vote to have the auditor come in. Do be aware that the auditor charges $165 per hour, including transport time of approximately 1 hour each way, during business hours for a consultation, they may (I do not yet know) charge more for evening visits. Just my suggestion.
I feel like I am living in North Korea. I knew he wouldn’t return my call.
The fee is insignificant given the amount of money we are responsible to the taxpayers for. The district has paid in the order of $4000 for needless “training” but balks at a few hundred dollars to explain an unfavorable audit.
If Mrs. Steenson can sign contracts without board authorization, I see no reason why you can’t have the auditor present for an SAU meeting on your own initiative, but I know that initiative works only in the SAU’s favor and never in favor of transparency or the taxpayers.
Mr. Bealo should have learned from “my experience” last year that it is counterproductive to try to censure me. Let’s be clear in all this. Mr. Stokinger and his staff are the ones being audited. We have an adverse opinion and we need to hear what that means from the professionals we are paying to give us their opinion – not from the people whose work is being audited. Here is the email I sent to the auditor this afternoon asking for explanation.
Dear Mr. Campo:
I have been reviewing the report for SAU 55 today and have a number of questions concerning it. A phone call would be most appreciated but to give you an idea of my questions here are some:
The adverse opinion this year is stronger than that of last year. This year you state that the the financial statements referred to above do not present fairly the financial position of the government-wide financial statements of the School Administrative Unit No. 55, as of June 30, 2014, or the changes in financial position thereof for the year then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
How are the “government-wide financial statements” different from the government activities statements and what is the significance of the change in language?
SAU 55 is overexpending its appropriated budget and covering the overexpenditure with an unassigned fund balance from the previous year. I thought the only way an unexpended fund balance from the previous year could be used was via an encumbrance; otherwise, all the previous year’s “surplus” must be included in revenue. You seem to indicate otherwise in your Note 2A so your help would be appreciated in helping me understand the significance of your findings.
What is the significance of the restatement with respect to the compensated absences from the previous year? Is this a common occurrence? In so far as it affects the deficit position of the SAU, this does concern me.
Basically I’d like some background on all the notes.
Thank you so very much,
Sandown representative to the Timberlane Regional School Board and a member of the board of SAU55 (on my own behalf)P
P.S. You can verify my identity by going to school board members on the Timberlane school board website. There you will see my phone and email. Timberlane and Hampstead school boards make up the SAU 55 board. https://public.timberlane.net/sau/trsb/Lists/Members/AllItems.aspx
I will be contacting the Department of Revenue Administration in Concord tomorrow. Mr. Bealo, you are welcome to put in a preliminary call to them first to tell them not to speak to me.
Searching the internet, I found this most interesting piece from NY’s Office of the State Comptroller on how to make school district audits more meaningful for school boards and give better protection to taxpayers. The very first recommendation is that the auditor should present the audit directly to the school board. Is that before or after the school board member who asked for this is censured? sch_audit_guidance (1)