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City to ask state for extension to do audit

December 16, 2012

WOONSOCKET — Despite the reluctance of finance officials, the Budget Commission has voted to petition the state auditor general to allow the city an extra month to submit audited financial statements of last year’s books, or until Jan. 31.
Finance Director Thomas Bruce wanted to put out a draft audit as soon as possible because, on the city side, the ledgers are expected to show a surplus in the range of $280,000 for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Bruce said reports of a modest surplus would no doubt be hailed as positive news by the rating agencies, even though the long-range picture isn’t quite so bright.
“Get ‘em out there,” said Bruce. “Put your best foot forward.”
But commissioners were not persuaded that the Woonsocket Education Department could produce reliable account balances soon enough to make the normal deadline, or even a two-week extension.
Ralph Malafronte, the WED’s interim business manager, blamed the problem on the Rhode Island Department of Education. Because weak accounting controls at the WED have hampered the city’s efforts to get timely and accurate financial information for at least two years, RIDE is assisting the WED in compiling information for the audit.
But the way Malafronte explained it to the budget commission, RIDE is making the process unnecessarily confusing and unwieldy.
At issue, he said, is a new method RIDE has introduced for tracking and categorizing expenses. Called the Uniform Code of Accounts, or UCOA, the system is supposed to aide RIDE in making a comparative analysis of educational costs from district to district, among other things.

Read more in our print edition.

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