Attorney Dowd and Our House of Cards

Geoffrey Dowd was the fourth highest paid business administrator in the state of New Hampshire, according to Department of Education online documents for the 17/18 academic year. Since Timberlane is one of the top 10 largest school districts in the state, this may not seem unreasonable until you learn that Attorney Dowd only recently became certified by the NH Department of Education as a Business Administrator. (July 23, 2018) He was previously on a “pathway to certification,” as it is called at the DOE.  And he has been temporarily suspended from the practice of law by a Massachusetts court, as of August, 2018. (See yesterday’s post.)

Our superintendent was the highest paid superintendent in NH in the 17/18 year.  It takes a giant of a man to hold up a house of cards, which is what SAU 55 has become.

You may recall that the audit for the year ending June 30, 2017 was very late in reaching the board, and it enumerated a number of worrisome deficiencies. The cards were swaying in the wind. Here is a scathing email sent to the Timberlane board about the risible excuses given by the administration for the audit’s delay. Read it yourself and be stunned.

From: Michael Campo <@plodzik.com>
Date: May 8, 2018 at 3:56:08 PM EDT
To: “susan.sherman@timberlane.net” <susan.sherman@timberlane.net>, “Metzler, Earl” <Earl.Metzler@SAU55.net>, “Dowd, Geoffrey” <Geoffrey.Dowd@SAU55.net>
Cc: brian boyle <Bjb63052@gmail.com>, “danguide@comcast.net” <danguide@comcast.net>, “kfarahsb@gmail.com” <kfarahsb@gmail.com>, “leedube@comcast.net” <leedube@comcast.net>, “kellyward9700@gmail.com” <kellyward9700@gmail.com>, “jsilvatrsb@gmail.com” <jsilvatrsb@gmail.com>, “shawn_oneil@rit.edu” <shawn_oneil@rit.edu>, “sarah.machemer@gmail.com” <sarah.machemer@gmail.com>
Subject: Plodzik & Sanderson, P.A. Responses to Comments related to Annual Audit from Timberlane Regional School Board Meeting dated 5/3/18

Members of the Board and Dr. Metzler,

I am sending this communication directly to the Board to correct misrepresentations made by management at your May 3, 2018 School Board Meeting regarding the status of the June 30, 2017 audit of the financial statements of the Timberlane Regional School District.

The CFO/Business Administrator, Geoff Dowd, indicated that he had not received a complete draft of the financial statements, and that “I have nothing complete from them,” and he later affirmed a board member’s comment that he had just pieces of information from us. A completed draft was sent to Mr. Dowd on April 27, 2018. A copy of this communication and draft will be forwarded separately to all included on this email. As you will see, upon reviewing the draft financial statements, we were still pending several items from management needed in order to complete our audit. Due to missing and insufficient information, and a lack of response to numerous requests for this information, we issued the draft financial statements based upon the information provided by management as of that date. As a result, the District received modified opinions on the general fund and governmental activities opinion units.

The District did not provide adequate supporting documentation for a material intergovernmental receivable balance in the amount of $562,950. We received partial support for this balance on May 3, 2018 at 10:11 pm, see EXHIBIT 1.1. The actuarial valuation for the District’s other postemployment benefits liability has not been received, despite us notifying the District on August 10, 2017 that this information was required. I have had direct communications with the actuary who had sent emails, as late as March 13, 2018, offering the District assistance in gathering the information needed to complete the actuarial valuation. As of today, this information has not been received.

The District did not provide us with any information related to their capital assets for June 30, 2017, which compose the largest assets on the District’s Governmental Activities Statement of Net Position. We received the capital asset information for audit from Mr. Dowd on May 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm, see EXHIBIT 1.2.

Mr. Dowd stated that the staffing capabilities of my office was a contributing factor in the delay of the audit. We scheduled the original fieldwork to begin on August 17, 2017. We arrived for fieldwork on August 17, 2017 and pulled our staff out at the end of the day, because the District was not adequately prepared for the audit. On October 10, 2017, and October 16, 2017, I proposed returning to complete the audit during the weeks of October 23, 2017 and October 30, 2017, see EXHIBIT 1.3. The District was not able to accommodate the audit on either these weeks. On November 6, November 7, November 17, and November 20, 2017 I contacted Mr. Dowd, via email to attempt to schedule our return for November 27, 2017, the Monday after Thanksgiving, see EXHIBIT 1.4. We returned on November 27, 2017 and November 28, 2017 to attempt to complete the audit fieldwork. The District was again not prepared and I withdrew my staff.

We scheduled Tuesday December 19, 2017 as another return date to complete the audit. In an email communication between Mr. Dowd and myself on December 18, 2017, Mr. Dowd indicated that he was “Definitely not 100% for tomorrow. Need to get this done of course. Will be posting to Dropbox as it comes available this afternoon into tonight. Might not be a full staff situation.”, see EXHIBIT 1.5. As a result of this communication, and a continued lack of preparedness on the part of management, I did not return with my staff on December 19, 2017.

Starting January 2018, several more attempt to complete the audit were made, as described below:

January 2, 2018 – I emailed Mr. Dowd again on indicating my desire to return in order to complete the audit by the end of January 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.6.
On January 12, 2018 and January 19, 2018 – I sent over limited staff to make progress on outstanding items, based upon communications with Mr. Dowd, as to what information he had completed for audit.
February 5, 2018 – I sent an email to Mr. Dowd, Superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler, and the Chairman of the Board, Brian Boyle, introducing myself to the chairman, and informing them of communications received from a citizen regarding the audit, see EXHIBIT 1.7. In this email I discussed scheduling another date with Mr. Dowd to return to complete the June 30, 2017 audit.
February 28, 2018 – I emailed Mr. Dowd to schedule another return date for my team to complete the audits, see EXHIBIT 1.8. I informed Dr. Metzler of our return via email on March 7, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.9.
March 16, 2018 – I followed up with Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler to remind them of our return on Monday March 19, 2018, and of my desire to have the audits completed by Friday March 23, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.10.
On March 19, 2018 we arrived for fieldwork with a full team in order to complete the audit. Much of the information we needed was provided by Mr. Dowd on a piecemeal basis. We continued with fieldwork through Friday, March 23, 2018. On Monday, March 26, 2018, I sent Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler detailed updates of the outstanding items for the Timberlane Regional School District, Hampstead School District, and School Administrative Unit No. 55 audits, see EXHIBIT 1.11. I indicated that I was available to assist with any questions regarding the pending items, and that I would wait to receive these materials in order to complete the audits. Having not received a response from the District, I again emailed another summary of the outstanding items to Mr. Dowd and Dr. Metzler, on Friday March 30, 2018, and requested completion of all items no later than the start of business on Friday, April 6, 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.12. We received no communication from the District from this point on. I instructed my staff to complete the audit report based upon the available information, and the audit draft was sent to Mr. Dowd on April 27, 2018, as noted above.

I refer you to certain comments made by Dr. Metzler during the May 3, 2018 school board meeting, beginning at approximately marker 1:32:26. Dr. Metzler stated, “I just found, at least with the auditing firm, not to blame anybody, I don’t feel that they are all that prepared or in a schedule either. I think it’s kind of hit or miss with them in some of these things, you know what I mean. So if they were on us for particular things at certain times, and I need this by…”, Dr. Metzler further states that “I didn’t hear from Mr. Campo, he basically alluded that he is all set”. Please note that I emailed Dr. Metzler on January 2, 2018, to set up a phone conversation on January 3, 2018, in order to give him a status update on the audits, see EXHIBIT 1.13. Dr. Metzler was also included on email communications on February 5, 2018, March 7, 2018, March 16, 2018, March 20, 2018, March 26 2018, and March 30, 2018. I also had a face-to-face conversation with Dr. Metzler and Mr. Dowd on Friday March 23, 2018, in which I relayed the status of pending items for the 2017 audit, and some serious concerns that came to my attention the prior day about current year (fiscal year 2018) financial activity. I do not construe my written or oral communications with Dr. Metzler as conveying the message that I was all set.

While attempting to review subsequent accounts receivable activity on March 21, 2018, a member of my audit team discovered that no cash receipts, other than minimal refunds associated with accounts payable transactions (less than $3,000), were recorded in fiscal year 2018. We obtained a detailed posting report of all revenue accounts for the fiscal year 2018, see EXHIBIT 1.14, which shows the lack of posting of receipts. Next, we obtained an account level balance sheet as of June 30, 2018, which showed a recorded cash deficit of -$45,213,020.40, see EXHIBIT 1.15. We consider this a serious matter, and strongly urged Mr. Dowd to remedy this situation.

We have mutually agreed upon a report release date of Friday, May 18, 2018, with management. We have been informed by Mr. Dowd that he will provide us with the completed actuarial valuation by Friday May 11, 2018. We will provide you with a final draft of the financial statements and management’s representation letter for your review and approval by the close of business on Tuesday May 15, 2018. We will issue the final report and governance letter based upon the information received from the District by close of business on Friday, May 18, 2018. We request that the written draft approval, and signed management’s representation letter be provided to us by 10:00 am on Friday, May 18, 2018, in order to issue the financial report.

We have gone above and beyond the normal course of business in order to complete this audit on behalf of the Timberlane Regional School District, the board that has engaged us, and members of the public that rely on an independent audit. In this process, the integrity of my firm, and my personal integrity has been brought into question. I will vigorously defend any misleading or false statements made against me or my firm. We hope this communication clears up any confusion and misleading statements regarding the status of the audit, and clearly outlines what is needed to complete the audit.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Campo, CPA

Director/Shareholder

Plodzik and Sanderson, P.A.

193 North Main Street

Concord, NH 03301

Your board read this email, too, and did nothing at all. Oh, except give Dowd a “consultant” to assist him.  Somehow your elected officials think it is always the number of people at issue and not the skill set and managerial oversight of the people they have hired. That mentality goes hand in hand with throwing money at problems instead of actually managing them.

The deck has long been stacked against taxpayers. Your elected officials have smoked cigars and slapped each other on the back while watching the house of cards grow taller and taller. The trouble is that when the house tumbles down, you will be on the hook to put the cards back in order while those responsible suffer no consequences thanks to your spineless board.

 

 

 

 

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