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Comptroller criticizes Edwards

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EDWARDS — The state Comptroller’s Office in an audit criticized the town of Edwards for overspending its budget because it lacked a policy on maintaining a reasonable fund balance.

The audit also determined that officials did not adequately monitor the town’s financial operations and act quickly to maintain stability. In addition, the audit found that the board did not have long-term financial plans.

No wrong-doing was found.

The town made no objections to the findings of the audit and has corrected most of the items that were of concern, according to a letter filed with the report. Town Supervisor Sharee D. Lanphear was not available for additional comment.

Auditors found that balances in the town’s major operating funds fluctuated significantly over the last four years primarily because the board over-appropriated fund balance and allowed the budget to be overspent. The audit also found that duties related to the town’s financial operations were not adequately split up.

The audit covered the period from 2008 through 2012.

Both the general and highway town-wide funds were overspent in every year except one from 2008 through 2011, the audit found.

“There was no indication that the board amended the budget or made budget transfers between accounts during our entire audit period to prevent the accounts from being overdrawn,” according to the report. “Had board members adequately reviewed budget status reports, they could have identified and addressed the significant negative budget variances in the expenditures.”

Mrs. Lanphear told auditors that the board uses all available estimated fund balances to minimize the tax levy.

“While a reduction in tax levy benefits taxpayers in the short term, fund balance should not be depleted to such a low level that there is insufficient cash available for paying bills or managing unforeseen events,” the report stated.

The state recommends a fund balance of at least two months of regular expenses.

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