After a two-year effort to fix problems in the town's books, auditors have finally given Milton a clean opinion.
Leslie Michalik, a manager at Pigg, Krahl & Stern CPA, delivered the good news to town officials at the Feb. 4 town council meeting.
“Over the past two fiscal years, the town has made significant improvements in its accounting controls and is continuing to work on these items, and overall the town is in good financial position,” said Michalik.
After Mayor Cliff Newlands and Councilman Norman Lester, an accountant, took office in 2010, they consulted State Auditor Thomas Wagner about the town's financial situation. After Wagner reviewed the books, he said the town had two options, either have previous years reaudited or move forward with what was in place. Wagner offered his office's assistance in auditing fiscal year 2010 for free, but Milton officials first needed to get the books sorted out. The town hired Zelenkofske Axelrod LLC of Harrisburg, Pa., before the state Auditor's Office stepped in. In August 2012, the state Auditor's Office completed its audit, but issued a disclaimer of opinion due to missing information and supporting documentation.
From there, the town hired PK&S to take on the fiscal year 2011 audit. In December, the firm issued another disclaimer of opinion, stating the issues in the 2010 audit carried over into 2011. However, Michalik indicated at that time that the town's next audit would most likely turn out much better.
Lester said it was the hard work of several individuals that turned things around.
“The two drivers were the mayor and myself and the people in the office,” he said. “Requirements had to be met, making sure things were done in accordance with good accounting principles. It was a team effort, to be fair about it.”
Now that the town is back in good financial standing, Lester said, it's important to continue to follow good accounting practices and implement controls whenever possible. It starts at town hall, he said.
“We need to retain a good staff,” he said. “They have a good staff in there now. The young ladies know what they're doing. They have a good understanding of accounting and the rules.”
In her report to the town council, Michalik identified weaknesses in the town's controls related to separation of duties, but Lester said it is impossible to fix those issues unless more staff were to be hired.
Along with Michalik's presentation, PK&S audit supervisor Ginger Heatwole explained the town's revenues and expenses for fiscal year 2012. Taxes and assessments accounted for $1.04 million or 57 percent of Milton's revenue, down from 66 percent in 2011 and 60 percent in 2010. About $274,000 or 15 percent of revenue was generated by licenses and permits, while 12 percent came from intergovernmental revenues, such as grants.
On the expenses side, $854,000 or 52 percent of budgeted expenditures was spent on public safety, while 22 percent went to general government. Public safety accounted for 51 percent in 2011 but only 41.8 percent in 2010.