Town Manager Peter Fohlin clarifies a point during a review of the town's annual audit with David Irwin, left, and Vince Viscuso of Adelson Moynihan & Kowalzyk.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town has done well with its finances for 2011, according to the annual audit done by Adelson Moynihan & Kowalzyk.
Vince Viscuso, firm partner, said no significant issues were found in the way the town handled its financial obligations and met accounting principles, including the way it handed its federal and state funds. "We did not find any material or significant weakness over your controls of those funds."
The town has collected some 98 percent of its tax levy and collected $325,000 better than the actual budget. "I would say that's a successful year," he said.
Selectman David Rempell asked how it was possible to collect more than was billed. Town Manager Peter Fohlin said the budget is not built on total receipts.
"We never budget to receive every last dollar of revenue becuase if we did and poeple don't pay we'd be in a pickle," he said. "We budget that some people don't pay but sometimes they surprise us and they do."
The audit included a second account method following Governmental Accounting Standards Board
rules that found net assets on June 30, 2011, of $32.5 million, a decrease over last year because of an increase in business assets and a decrease in governmental assets because of unfunded post-employement obligations. "Your total assets when down $980,000," said Viscuso.
In response to questions from the board, Town Manager Peter Fohlin said the depreciation of the town's buildings was for accounting purposes but did not really express the value of the buildings.
"This building is probably not worth anything but it doesn't mean it's not a good building," said Fohlin of the town offices. The same applies to schools and other facilities, he said.
The town is looking at $21 million in unpaid obligations health benefits for future retirees.
"What percentage of that is a reasonable obligation, and what is unreasonable in that there may be a problem in 10 years from meeting those obligations?" asked Selectman David Rempell.
Viscuso said the number was fluid and projected out over many years; it will change depending on factors including number of employees, costs of health benefits and percentage employers pay.
"This is a hard nut for most governments," he said, because they are limited in increasing tax revenues by Proposition 2 1/2 and over health insurance costs. Most corporations are changing the way they do health insurance — along with pensions. "You are never going to write a check for this $21 million; it's just always going to be a part of your budget."
Audit manager David Irwin said there were only a couple minor bookkeeping recommendations, including providing advanced government accounting training for the finance director.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the warrant for the annual town election on Tuesday, May 8, from 7 to 8 and the annual town meeting set for Tuesday, May 15, at 7 p.m. at the elementary school.
• Heard a presentation on the proposed expansion of Northern Berkshire Regional Vocational School District to include Lanesborough and Cheshire.
• Approved the 16th annual Williams College Run for the Cure on Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. The race raises money for the American Cancer Society and is run in honor of student and all-star athlete Matt Stauffer who died of cancer in 1996.
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