Source: Sherman Publications

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Auditor gives twp. high marks

by CJ Carnacchio

July 20, 2011

Oxford Township's finances got a clean bill of health plus some glowing compliments from the auditor last week.

"Overall, I don't have anything alarming to report, which I'm happy to tell you," said auditor Rana Emmons, a certified public accountant and partner with the Plymouth-based firm Post, Smythe, Lutz and Ziel. "You did receive the highest opinion level possible in an audit, which is the unqualified opinion."

An unqualified opinion is issued by an auditor when the financial statements presented give a true and fair view of a company or municipality's condition, position and operations.

Emmons gave township officials a summary report of her firm's audit of the 2010 fiscal year that ended Dec. 31.

Her assessment of the township's financial management was most definitely a positive one.

"Overall, you did increase the township's net assets by approximately $635,000," said Emmons, noting this is calculated by adding up all the township's assets, including things like the municipal water system, then subtracting all the local government's debt.

Included in those increased net assets were the 7 acres of land that the parks and recreation department purchased for $212,000 and added to Seymour Lake Park along with the new fire engine purchased for $500,000.

Speaking of debt, Emmons indicated the township lowered its debt load last year by refunding approximately $5.5 million in bond debt related to the fire department and public library. This move resulted in a "net present value savings" of about $464,000 between now and when the debt is paid off in 2016.

"That is a direct savings to the township residents," Emmons said. "Hopefully, in the big picture, you'll be able to drop (reduce) the debt millage."

Careful spending by the township board resulted in a $223,927 surplus for the 2010 fiscal year. Later in the meeting, township officials debated what to do with the excess funds. (See story on Page 5.)

Emmons noted how the township received approximately $600,000 in grant money from the federal government last year to construct new safety paths along W. Drahner Rd. and purchase equipment for the fire department.

In the end, Emmons thanked township officials and staff for providing their "utmost cooperation," which "makes my life so much easier" and "lends itself to a smooth audit."

She also complimented township officials for their willingness to listen and take action when needed.

"What it all comes down to is management's integrity and that's the township board," Emmons said. "When I lend a suggestion or recommendation, no matter how small or how big, the board reacts positively and immediately. That's why you don't have a letter of suggestions (or) recommendations."

"I'd like to take a little bit of credit, but I don't want to," said Supervisor Bill Dunn. "I do want to commend the accounts payable portion of the township (clerk's department) and the accounts receivable portion of the township (treasurer's department) for having, every year, a pretty nice audit. I'd like to commend the people that were a part of this (and) that work hard to ensure that we do have a good audit."