Audit reports show Bath ‘improving’

Mary Perham
Bath Municipal Building

Bath Village operations are improving, according to a recent independent audit, but more work needs to be done.

The fiscal review, by Bonadio and Co., was hampered because of the village’s chaotic operations from 2007-mid 2010, according to auditors.

The lack of financial oversight at the village and its utility, Bath Electric Gas and Water Systems, during the past few years also was reported by the state Comptroller’s Office a year ago.

However, while the lack of important fiscal details hampered the village board last year, auditors reported the village’s healthy reserves and tightened spending overcame highly inflated revenue estimates for 2011.

According to the audit for the year ending May, 31, 2011, revenues for the $4.3 million budget fell short last year by nearly $537,000.  Spending in 2011 was reduced by $403,000, leaving a deficit of $134,000, which was easily covered by the village’s $1.9 million reserve.

The report also showed the village utility, Bath Electric Gas and Water Systems is on solid ground, although some areas show a slight deficit. The audit noted rate hikes are in place to reduce the deficits.

Trustee Bill von Hagn, the village board’s liaison with BEGWS, credited village Clerk Nonie Flynn and the utility’s financial officer Jim Houseman with working hard to locate the information needed for the audit.

“Nonie, in particular,” von Hagn said. “She has been an incredible help in re-establishing a baseline.”

Bonadio’s report also made several recommendations to improve the financial standing of both the village and the utility, including:

•    Management becomes more active in financial statement preparations.

•    Review the village’s contract with the Bath Volunteer Fire Department to ensure the terms are carried out.

•    Establish formal policies on credit card use, capital assets, investments and deposits, and collateral tracking.

•    Set up internal controls over cash receipts, with duties split between more than one village or BEGWS employee.

•    Analyze actual budgets every quarter.

•    Ensure employees are paid for accrued vacation time according to contracts.

•    Review BEGWS management’s timesheets and vacation requests.

•    Set up a secure accounting back-up system, including disaster recovery.

Village Trustee John Stranges said he was pleased with the audit.

“The village part was excellent,” he said. “We were quite thrilled with the changed system.”

According to the audit for the year ending May, 31, 2011, revenues for the $4.3 million budget fell short last year by nearly $537,000.

Spending in 2011 was reduced by $403,000, leaving  a deficit of $134,000, which was easily covered by the  village’s $1.9 million reserve.