While the records for most of the City of Amsterdam’s funds were found by the auditing firm EFPR Group to be accurate for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, they gave the city an “adverse” opinion in regards to the city’s government-wide financial statements. According to Matthew DuBois of EFPR Group, the main reason has to do with lack of proper tracking of capital assets such as equipment and property, especially assets purchased with federal funds.
At a recent meeting with city officials on January 16, DuBois explained, “Dollars were spent on long-term assets, it could have been the sewer plant, it could have been construction, it could have been anything, but they’re long-term assets that should be depreciated over a period longer than one year. Currently the city does not maintain the requirements for tracking those fixed assets that were purchased with federal dollars.”
The problem has also been pointed out in the last two prior audit reports. In August 2016, Agresta said an updated city-wide inventory of capital assets has not been completed in many years and cited the expected cost and complexity of completing the inventory as reason to wait until the city’s financial records are up-to-date before proceeding.
“That’s a very expensive undertaking,” said Agresta. “And the correction of the financials in this office were, I think, of paramount importance compared to that. Once we are at a point where we’re just moving forward, certainly we want to look at having the inventory updated. But what the process is for that and how much it specifically will cost is not a known quantity now.”
As of this week, Agresta said his office has not taken any steps yet toward completing the inventory.
The auditors are currently working on the audit for the 2016-2017 fiscal year with the goal of having it ready so the city can file its annual update document with New York State before the February 28, 2018 deadline. Filing the report before the deadline could mark the first time in many years that the city reports have been filed on-time.
At the meeting, DuBois expressed optimism that the city’s financial records are improving and taking less time to audit.
“A lot of the troubling areas that we had to deal with, with prior audits, they were pretty clean. Hopefully we’re going to be ahead of that this year,” said DuBois.