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Joyce Endee

Wakefield receives unqualified opinion on 2011 audit

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
August 31, 2012
WAKEFIELD — Tammy Webb from Vachon Clukay had good news for Wakefield selectmen when she met with them last Wednesday, Aug. 22, about the 2011 town audit.

The first good news was that Vachon Clukay's opinion on the town's financials was unqualified, meaning that no significant problems were found during the audit.

A second welcome conclusion was, based actuarial estimates compiled by Town Administrator Teresa Williams, the town's post-employment liabilities were zero.

The town ended 2011 with more than $4 million in assets and only $71,000 in outstanding debt (for sewer bonds) a very strong financial position. Of those assets 71 percent were in cash.

Expenditures in 2011 were $41,000 less than budgeted and revenues were $333,000 higher.

Webb explained that the Governmental Accounting Standards Board had changed the way fund balances are reported through GASB rule 54. The most significant of these changes was that what used to be called the "undesignated fund balance" or surplus is now called "unassigned fund balances." Wakefield's unassigned fund balance at the end of 2011 was $1.4 million or 11.2 percent of funds. The state Department of Revenue Administration recommends that towns keep eight to 17 percent in this unassigned reserve to cover abatements and other shortfalls as well as emergency expenses.

Webb explained that the audit reviews internal financial controls and, once every three years, does control testing in an unannounced area. In 2011 the areas included payroll, handling of sewer fees and disbursements to vendors. No problems were found.

The only area of comment concerned the town's decision last year not to pay for unused sick or vacation time at the end of employment. At the time the town did not address the status of employees who had already accumulated leave time, but it was since determined those employees who had accumulated time at the time the policy was adopted would be paid for that time when they leave employment or retire.

The final topic Webb reviewed was the requirement in GASB 51 to place a value on intangible assets. As far as she could tell Wakefield's only intangible assets are easements granted to the town. Indefinite easements need to be capitalized, but for "third tier" governments like the town only easements acquired after Jan. 1, 2012 needed to be reported.

Selectman Peter Kasprzyk asked about how the pending acquisition of two Union Meadows lots where the town will immediately sell an easement in the property to N.H. Fish and Game will be treated. Webb said she would look into it.

The 2011 audit completed Vachon Clukay's three-year audit contract with the town. Webb said she would provide estimates for a new contract to Williams for the selectmen to consider.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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