By Teresa L. Benns
CENTER— Last Thursday auditors Karla Willschau and Jessica Bogner with Wall, Smith and Bateman in Alamosa delivered the Town of Center’s audit to town trustees and Mayor Herman Sisneros and discussed suggested improvements with the board.
They reported the town’s current assets (net position) at $5.9 million with current liabilities at $905,000 and long-term liabilities at $1 million. The town had $583,000 in total revenues.
Trustee Bill McClure asked the auditors questions periodically during the presentation seeking clarification on certain items. He also told Bogner and Willschau he had questions on the town’s pension plan he needed answers for which he would pose to them later, but not in front of the press.
Bogner and Willschau advised Center they came in over their budget for the year, a violation of state statute and would receive a letter from the state advising them of this fact. Willschau said there are ways to make Center’s general fund more self-sufficient so the town is not dipping into their utility funds to subsidize the general fund.
She also told the board this is a challenging time for everyone with firms like Wal-Mart and Amazon hurting local sales tax revenues. “This is NOT government as usual,” she told the board. “We have to get creative. No one wants a tax increase but need services (ambulance, fire department, police department).” The town must envision what else might change and be ready for it, she cautioned, in order to plan ahead.
She then moved on to the town’s governance letter, which contained “nothing out of the ordinary.” She itemized various issues the town is still experiencing, including a material weakness and problems with internal controls, but later said it is much better than it was at one point for the town.
Problems were found
with the following:
• The town is still having issues with keeping their account balances straight
• Inventory items were not properly listed
• Capital asset listings were not updated
• Some utility figures were not accurate
• The town has overpaid sales tax to the state
• Mathematical errors
• Pension errors
• The town needs to keep better salary records.
The town also was found to be out of compliance with its loan for the new water tank. The auditors explained that terms or covenants of the loan require them to maintain 110 percent of their operating income, and while they are on compliance with their reserve covenants regarding the loan they are not in compliance with the rate covenants. If the problem continues, those holding the loan could demand a rate study, auditors advised the board.
Town Administrator Brian Lujan told the board the town realizes it has some problems financially and is trying to work with the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to obtain a grant to bring DOLA in to offer assistance in rectifying the problems. Lujan said the town will know later this month whether it will receive the grant or not.
Auditors thanked Center for their time and told the board they had been very helpful in supplying the necessary information. They complimented the board on the hiring of a new accountant to assist in keeping their finances on an even course.
The board approved the audit.