By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – The town of North Kingstown is financially healthy ... at least according to the latest reports.
A 156-page audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 was conducted by The Braver Group, a firm of licensed certified public accountants from Providence, and the results were presented to the NK Town Council Monday night.
The audit was performed to obtain a reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements from the town were “free” of material misstatement and to examine evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in those statements as well as assessing the overall accounting principles.
“We didn’t identify any deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be material weaknesses,” said Jim Wilkinson of the Braver Group.
One of the biggest financial highlights presented was that North Kingstown exceeded its liabilities by $65.1 million. Of that amount, $15.8 million may be used to meet the government’s obligations to citizens and creditors.
The town government’s total net assets decreased by $2,349,204. As of the close of the current fiscal year, the town’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $20.1 million. Approximately, 45.2 percent of this total ($9.1 million) is available for spending at the town’s discretion.
Also, at the end of the current fiscal year, the total fund balance within the general fund was $10.67 million. Of this amount, the unassigned fund balance for the general fund was $9.16 million, which is also available for spending at the town’s discretion.
The remaining $1.2 million will be used to help finance the golf course’s irrigation project.
A total of $9.4 million is considered “committed” and includes such things as retirements, debt service, capital projects and other governmental funds.
Property taxes are the largest revenue source for the town and represent 66 percent of the total revenues. Due to a significant decrease in values, the property tax rate increased from $13.97 to $16.85 per thousand dollars of assessed value.
The general fund balance increased by just under $350,000 and, according to Wilkinson, North Kingstown has one of the strongest fund balances on the municipal level.
Education expenses account for 65 percent of the total expenses within the governmental funds of the town. Public safety and public works account for 15 percent and six percent, respectively.
“Like in past years, we are still recommending that an account manual be implemented,” said Wilkinson. “Documenting the control process, procedures and training of employees should be some of the things included in this.”
Wilkinson recommended that inter-fund reconciliation be done in a timely manner as it relates to the town and school departments. He mentioned that staff members struggled with completing this task in a timely basis. He also once again implored that the town pay attention to the staffing and internal control within the finance department.
“The work load has stayed the same but the staffing has decreased,” he said. “I urge you to be mindful of uncompleted duties and find staffing within the departments to get these tasks done.”
Councilman Charles Stamm felt “comforted” by the audit results and the work the firm did.
The complete audit report can be viewed by visiting www.northkingstown.org , under the finance department’s page.