Couch presents audit to county commissioners
CHESTERTOWN — Superintendent Karen Couch appeared before the Kent County Commissioners Oct. 16 to submit the school district’s annual audit for the previous fiscal year.
Joining Couch was Jane Towers, Kent County Public Schools’ supervisor of finance, and Board of Education members Wendy Costa and Joe Goetz. They presented a clean audit report.
The audit shows a total net position of negative $5 million, which Towers attributed to factors required to be listed under the latest governmental accounting standards. The audit shows a net obligation for other post employment benefits, or OPEB, of more than $19.6 million. That is the district’s financial obligation for the total cost of retirement benefits not including pensions potentially owed.
“They’re basically saying, if everyone was to retire and everyone was to get a check, this is what you would have to write that check for,” Towers said.
She said districts throughout the state are reporting the OPEB liability as well.
William Pickrum, president of the commissioners, asked the district’s plan for dealing with that. He said the county has OPEB liabilities, too.
Towers said the district is a member of an OPEB trust. She said the district can draw from the trust as needed.
The commissioners also raised questions about the district’s fund balance, money reported in the audit as unspent.
The audit shows $695,000 committed to a budget reserve; $500,000 for contingency; $47,275 for facility repairs; and $15,000 for textbooks. Another $175,815 is listed as otherwise encumbered. The unassigned fund balance that rolled over into the current fiscal year is $55,672. That brings the total fund balance to nearly $1.5 million.
Commissioner Bill Short questioned how the $500,000 for contingency is considered “committed” in the audit when it is not committed to any particular purchase.
Towers said accounting policies require it be reported as “committed.”
Couch said the district has to have flexibility and cash flow to do business. She said sometimes costs must be covered upfront until grants provide reimbursement.