Auditor — Casco’s finances healthier than 2015

 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — The town-contracted auditor reported that Casco is in better financial standing now than at the end of the previous fiscal year.

On Tuesday, Auditor Bruce Nadeau, of RHR Smith & Company, provided the Casco Board of Selectmen with a summary of the most recent audit.

“Casco is in a much healthier position in June ‘16 than in June ’15,” Nadeau said.

“Your total assets were $4.4 million in ’16, compared to $3.4 million in ’15,” he said.

“Your account payables are down slightly,” Nadeau said,

“Anything that doesn’t come up in the first 60 days of the (fiscal) year is” considered deferred taxes and is not counted. So, with the mil rate being a little higher, some residents may not have paid their tax bill until later, and their payments are not reflected in that year’s collections because the books are closed on June 30.

“Your collection rates were good. Your receivables are good,” he said.

Basically, $744,000 of property tax-based income was not available for day-to-day operations, he said.

That is money that was not paid to the Town of Casco before the last 60 days of the year, he said.

Still, the town made “a solid step forward” compared to 2015 — bringing in $300,000 more in taxes in 2016, he said.

After all, the town writes one check to Cumberland County and 12 checks to School Administrative District (SAD) 61. The SAD 61 budget accounts for about 70 to 75 percent of the entire budget for Casco residents, according to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton.

The total assets are a snapshot of the town’s finances on the day that the books are closed, which is June 30, Morton said. The town had just taken out a Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) in late June. Therefore, that was included in the total assets, he said.

According to Nadeau, the audit reveals “that things are operating as they should be.”

“The budget isn’t overly high. The budget isn’t overly low. You are in that sweet spot,” he said.

The board formally voted to accept the audit — an important tool in the upcoming budget process. The board also voted, 5-0, to retain the services of RHR Smith.

Nadeau will return in the near future for a more in-depth discussion about the audit, most likely with the selectmen and also member of the Casco Finance Committee present.

“One of the things that I will mention: I would be willing to come back and go into more details with the board or the budget committee,” he said. “It would take 60 to 90 minutes.”

Selectman Mary Fernandes said that would be a valuable workshop, especially since the town will be taking out a $3.5 million bond and the board would like to know how the bond repayment will impact the budget.

Morton said, “We are looking at significant increases (to tax rate). We talked about this with the voters when we passed the bond.”

“The rest of the budget is relatively stable,” he said.

“There will be big decisions regarding the Grange Hall, which could require expenditures close to $700,000 if we want to keep it. Another big ticket budget item is contracting a full-time deputy for the town, he said.

“Those are decisions that will be coming up at Town Meeting,” Morton said.

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