Couch presents au­dit to county com­mis­sion­ers

Kent County News - - NEWS - By DANIEL DIVILIO ddivilio@thekent­coun­tynews.com

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.

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