City finances receive unqualified audit

Sandpoint town officials were briefed on the financial statements and audit reports at Wednesday night’s regular council meeting. In attendance via Zoom were representatives from the city’s independent auditor Magnuson, McHugh & Company in Coeur d’Alene.

The City’s Chief Financial Officer, Sarah Lynds, introduced Laura Parasida, Manager of Audit and Assurance Services, of that company, who gave council members and the public an overview of what an audit is. and their role.

The Idaho code requires annual audits by an independent company. And, while it may seem obvious, independent means that this company has no connection to the city.

“The purpose of an audit is to provide reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free from material misstatement,” Parasida said, “in other words, that the presentation of your financial statements is fair and in accordance with accounting principles. generally recognised.”

She explained that they obtain this assurance by testing various aspects of financial activities during the year. The city’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. Parasida said the company issued the city an unmodified opinion, or what is called an unqualified opinion.

“This means that the financial statements the city presented to us were, in our opinion, fairly presented and we found no material journal entries or anything that needed to be posted to get them there,” he said. she declared. “So, that’s really great.”

The company also verified funds received from the federal government to ensure they were disbursed according to federal guidelines.

“We saw no evidence of non-compliance. We did not find any deficiencies in internal controls that we believe should be brought to your attention or that we believe are an issue,” she told the board. She also said that being able to give that opinion was testimony from the city’s finance department.

After Parasida, Lynds presented the financial reports for the fourth quarter of the prior fiscal year and the first quarter of fiscal 2022. Especially intended for new board members, Lynds explained how to read and interpret these reports.

The public has access to all of the City’s financial statements. They can be found on their website: Look under the “your government” tab and then click on “finance and public services”.

In other council business, officials approved a two percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for regular city employees eligible to participate in Regence Medical/Delta Dental coverage beginning April 1.

City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton told council that the city is making this proposal due to a number of factors. Premium rate cuts, giving employees plan choices, less benefit utilization are part of that, but also because the city wants to be competitive not only in benefits, but in wages.

She said the city compares itself to cities in other regions and wants to be proactive in the market which is getting tougher. She also pointed out that often, in order to recruit the best candidates for vacancies, the city hires at the higher end of the scale.

“We’ve had a history with the city, especially over the last six or seven years, of being really proactive and watching where the market is going, and proactively moving our COLAs around so we don’t get stuck in a year where we’re way behind,” she said.

Stapleton also said they are already beginning the budgeting process for next year. “We anticipate that we will be looking at a COLA of three percent, or more likely, four percent so that we can stay with our benchmark. So what we’re talking about here is some of that COLA. We have budget savings that are already in the salary and benefits line. »

She said the one-time expense would create a “fair balance for our existing employees given our hiring environment.”

At this meeting, the board also approved the consent schedule which included the approval of bills payable in the amount of 1,003,926.10; a real estate exchange agreement with Bridge Street, LLC, at First Avenue and Bridge Street, and the award of a contract for the Pine Street sidewalk project.

During the public comment period, only one person spoke. Rebecca Holland expressed concern about the ownership swap on Bridge Street and how it will affect bike access to the City Beach and Sand Creek trails.

“It’s important for the children. It’s not as important to us as adults,” Holland said. “It’s important to our community and you were elected to listen to the community, not the developers coming in and that’s where the energy needs to be.”

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