Weekly Feature



2018-10-11 / Education

District receives positive opinion on financial statements

by JENNIFER WATERS
Editor

Matthew Montalbo, an accountant with Drescher and Malecki, brought good news to the West Seneca Board of Education Tuesday night as he presented a positive opinion of the district’s 2017-18 financial statements.

“Essentially, [your books] can be relied upon by an outside third parties, as well as the board. That’s the best you can do from an audit standpoint,” Montalbo said.

This was the result of the external audit for year ending June 30, 2018, Montalbo said, clarifying that the district’s management is responsible for the books and records of the district.

“We’re hired to come in as an independent third party to provide an opinion on the financial statement,” he said, noting that the auditor plans to move forward with the opinion presented.

“As far as other communications, no significant difficulties, no disagreements with management. We were given full and open access to the books and records. That allowed us to perform our audit and then provide our opinion,” he said.

Looking at a five-year trend of revenues versus expenditures, Montalbo said the district ended fiscal year 2018 with a $5.8 million increase in the general fund.

“This was a similar year to the prior year, but another positive year from the general fund standpoint,” he said. “When you look at the trend, the last three fiscal years, your expenditures have been level whereas the state aid started to come back.”

Montalbo said in 2017-18, district expenditures increased to more than $112 million.

“When you compare to our other districts, that’s a pretty normal increase, and almost expected at this point,” he said, referring to salary and benefit increases seen by many districts.

He said the district shows a solid upward trend in its fund balance, from $15.2 million to just over $21 million.

“Within that you have certain balances that are restricted. Over $14 million of that represents your legal reserves, so you’ve set aside money for workers’ compensation liabilities, future employee benefits, capital reserves, tax reserves,” he said.

Something to note in the 2016-17 unrestricted fund balance is $1.7 million that was set aside to help balance the budget and take pressure off taxpayers, the accountant said.

“It’s the first year in the previous years that you were in a position to do that,” Montalbo said.

The available fund balance at the end of 2017-18 is $4.8 million, Montalbo said.

“That’s an important figure because the Real Property Tax Law restricts you to 4 percent of your next year’s appropriations and you are right at that level,” he said.

“Like in other districts, the budget is going up. You’re in a position to handle those challenges going forward,” Montalbo said.

“We’re happy to say that we didn’t have any material weaknesses or deficiencies in internal control. That’s essentially the best you can do from an audit standpoint,” he said.

Montalbo added that after years of being on the comptroller’s fiscal stress monitoring system, he believes the district’s outlook will improve.

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