Accountants ready to look at books


In response to the Amsterdam's poor financial records and inability to reconcile several accounts, the city hired two firms to straighten out its books.

The Common Council required Laura Poehlman, the CPA chosen to balance the capital projects accounts, and West & Co., the firm chosen to handle the rest of the city's accounts, to submit scopes of work before the mayor was authorized to hire them.

Though Finance Committee Chairman Richard Leggiero said Poehlman will be offering her's by the end of the month, West & Co.'s was distributed at this week's council meeting.

Leggiero, who is also the 5th Ward alderman, said West & Co. will be reporting to City Hall by the end of next week. Friday afternoon, city controller Matthew Agresta said they were sent information as soon as the proposal was accepted.

"They didn't need to come in to start," Agresta said. "All the information they needed to begin was sent to them."

The document, written by Michael Rossi, a CPA at the firm, states they aim to provide the city with accurate books and records for the years ending June 30, 2012, and 2013 by offering a CPA who "has experience in the day-to-day operations of a city in accordance with governmental accounting procedures."

All work, the document says, will not exceed $30,000, but additional fees may accrue after the work is complete. The firm won't charge for planning meetings and conferences with the city.

"I thought that was very generous of them," Leggiero said.

The document lists three areas of focus the firm will use to guide its work.

First, Rossi wrote the firm will work to reconcile the June 30, 2011, audited financial statements and the opening balances of KVS Accounting System. It will also provide journal entries to achieve reconciled beginning books.

Then, they will review audit findings and provide assistance in correcting those findings and finally, start to review cash and the reconciliation of those accounts.

"Upon completion of these procedures," the document states, "we will discuss plans for continuing to assist with preparing accounting records with the controller."

Rossi wrote that the firm will issue monthly invoices as work progresses to provide status updates.

Agresta said he couldn't comment on how West & Co. was doing since they started.

"My plan is to contact them Monday morning and see how work is progressing after having had a week to work," Agresta said Friday afternoon.

Agresta did, however, provide information about work the controller's office has completed since he was sworn in.

Until Poehlman begins work, which may be by the end of the month, Agresta said he won't give a balance for the capital projects account.

"That's a zero balance because the information isn't correct at this point anyway," Agresta said. "So until we have those reconciled, we won't give the balance for that."

But, for the general fund, he said, as of Nov. 29, there is $4.8 million in the account, up $700,000 from October.

The trust account has $345,000 in it, which is up $85,000 from October. The payroll account has $736,000 in it, down $170 from last month. The police account has $7,000 in it, which is up $3,500 from last month. The county account is $6 higher than it was in October.

"The online payments for our taxes year to date from [deputy controller David Mitchell's] last report, there was $1,500 from October until November," Agresta said. "It's gone up about $6,000 up to $7,800, so people are using that, which is a good thing."

Agresta said that brings the city's accounts to a total of just over $7 million, not including funds from the capital projects.

Though 4th Ward Alderman David Dybas said he doesn't think West & Co. and Poehlman will be enough to straighten the city's books, Leggiero said he thinks they will be sufficient.

"I just want to let the state know that we're doing all we possibly can here to meet our financial responsibilities," Leggiero said.