Casco goes with new auditing firm

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

CASCO – After 16 years of service, Purdy Powers & Company will step aside as the Town of Casco’s auditing firm.
On Tuesday, the Casco Board of Selectmen unanimously bid good-bye to a long-standing contract with Purdy Powers, and opted to go for the lowest bid – saving taxpayers almost $2,500.

RHR Smith & Company will do the town’s audit for the most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30. Also, selectmen must vote annually for the three-year contract to continue.

According to the bid paperwork, the winning bidder, RHR Smith, will charge $6,100 for each year during the next three years.
Other companies increased the cost of its bid each year. Purdy Powers offered its services for $8,500 in 2011, and bumped up to $8,900 by 2013.

The highest bidder, MacDonald Page & Company LLC, started with $11,200 and inflated to $11,800 in two years.
Selectman Ray Grant made the motion to accept the lowest choice.

“I think our audit company has gotten too comfortable,” he said.

“I make the motion because of the price, and it’s time for a change,” Grant said.

Money was the bottom line for other board members.

“The price is lower,” Selectman Mary-Vienessa Fernandes said before casting her vote.

Town Manager Dave Morton explained that since Casco is a new client, there will be a long line before the town’s audit is attended to.

In future years, the auditing firm will complete Casco’s audit much sooner – abiding by state deadlines.

“This year’s audit will be coming through later. It’s getting a late start. We are going to be at the end of their agenda,” Morton said.

“After that, they will have a timeframe to complete the audit,” he said.

RHR Smith & Company does audit work for the Town of Naples, and also the transfer site and bulky-waste management facility that the two towns share, Morton said.

“Smith & Company is a reliable firm,” he said.

In related business, Morton talked to the board about steps being made among the town office employees – new procedures to try to follow recommendations of the most recent auditor’s report.

“Our deputy bookkeeper is on vacation so this has been a good time to train, and divide those responsibilities,” he said.
In the audit report, it was recommended that certain money-handling duties be segregated. Some tasks involving money cannot be done by the same person.

This accounting practice is easier to assume in town offices with bigger departments. Typically, smaller towns with limited staff get lower marks when it comes to achieving segregation of duties.

Recently, Selectman Grant requested Morton try to address auditor’s concerns.

“We are training people in different aspects of accounting,” he said. Another change was to split the cash drawer into two different cash drawers – one for receivables, another for banking.

“We are going through internally and looking at changing some of the office functions. We are starting from scratch,” he said.
“We haven’t done work on internal-control documentation,” he said, addressing other advice in auditor’s report.

“We haven’t approached our existing auditing firm for any help with that because we were not sure if they will be our auditing firm still,” he said.

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