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Friday, October 31, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,
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Being filed Friday City prepping audit update

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - Updated: 10:24 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

casey.croucher@recordernews.com

City accounting documents for fiscal year 2011-12 will be filed with the state by Friday, according to Amsterdam Controller Matthew Agresta.

The city's 2011-12 Annual Update Document mandated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board is a complete list of financial records for that year. The report is one every municipality in the state is required to file annually.

The city's 2011-12 AUD was due in October 2012, but because of setbacks and errors, it hasn't been completed until now.

"We're trying to get this completely done by the end of the week," Agresta said.

The controller said he is in the process of entering information he gathered into the AUD report, but before it is submitted to the state, he wants to compare notes with accountant Lauren Poehlman, who has been working with the controller's office on the report since last year.

"We want to make sure we've included all of the adjustments we needed and nothing else was left out to get ourselves an accurate report," he said.

Agresta said he can't discuss particular highlights of the 2011-12 report until it's officially filed, but he can compare it to what the city filed in November.

At that time, the AUD showed that eight of the city's 17 bank accounts were not reconciled. Also, according to the report's bank reconciliation summary, which includes all checking, savings and special grant accounts, the total cash amount and the total cash balance of all funds are denoted by an asterisk that reads "must be equal."

However, these numbers differed by $1.2 million. The total cash was $7,992,935 and the total cash balance of all funds was $9,211,219.

City officials claimed the error-filled report was due to lack of accounting and organization.

However, Agresta said the AUD being submitted Friday will have a lot of positive changes made to it.

"There's obviously large changes from what we did in November to the numbers we have now," he said. "This AUD we're submitting will be a much, much more accurate picture of our actual financial operations for the 2011-12 year."

He said he believes one of the major AUD setbacks for the city was the change of accounting software in 2011.

He said the city used to use the same accounting software as Montgomery County; in July 2011 the county purchased new software called the KVS System and the city followed suit.

Agresta said when the system switch was made the old system and the new system should have run at the same time for a while so that everything needed from the old system "is hitting the new system properly."

"That wasn't done and when KVS was getting information from the city they were looking for direction on how they wanted it [transferred] so that when we started the new system everything would be as it should be," he said. "However, KVS didn't receive that direction so they just made up a 'Z Fund' and a lot of financial transaction information was put in that fund, and then nothing was done to it."

The Z Fund essentially had all of the city's funds and balances in it without any separation or organization, he said, and a lot of the city's balances that should have had a starting number from the beginning of the fiscal year started out at a zero balance.

"Some of those incorrect balances carried forward to 2012-13," he said, "so it was a difficult process of doing the transition because it wasn't done completely or correctly and that was what started the issues we're having today."

As for the actual changes made to the AUD, the controller said his office did a capital projects reconciliation then did a cash reconciliation with all of the city's bank statements "to see what [they] have in the books."

"Then we made adjustments to our books to make them reflect what we actually have with our bank accounts, so there was a myriad of entries that had to be made for the 2011-12 year," he said.

He said there will be a few errors in the 2011-12 AUD because he still has to do reconciliation with the city's taxes receivable fund, but in the interest of getting the AUD submitted, Agresta said, he can make those adjustments when doing the 2012-13 AUD.

He said the city has no account of the money it was sending to the county for tax collection so the city could be owed money by the county or owe the county money.

"Until we can get all the way through the reconciliation and work with the county to see what they have on their books, we won't be able to know what receivables are still on there," he said.

He also said another big difference in this AUD is how the capital projects fund is separated from the general fund.

"When we get bonds or borrow money to pay for big projects we're doing around the city, that should remain separate from what you're doing in regular operations. However, at the time all of the money was coming in to the same place," he said.

The city now has a capital project funding bank account, separate from the city general fund account, Agresta said, which makes determining amounts of money being used from each fund more accurate.

"I think this is going to be a very big difference compared to what was originally filed, not only for the capital projects but for all of our actual operations," he said. "This was the year the [software] transition was made, so we're hopeful a lot of the problems we corrected will carry forward and they're not problems they'll have to reconcile again when working on the 2012-13 AUD."

     

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