D-19 audit reveals financial ‘errors’

As Barnwell District 19 celebrates their recent accreditation, their annual audit reveals some financial woes.
Jim McGuire, a certified public accountant with McGregor & Company, highlighted his firm's findings from the district's fiscal year which ended June 30 during the Dec. 10 meeting.
"There was quite a dramatic drop off in total revenue" - $1,439,946 to be exact, said McGuire. In the 2010-11 fiscal year the district had $10,171,165 in total revenue, compared to $8,731,219 this past (2011-12) fiscal year, according to the audit.
Though they originally budgeted for a $562,069 deficit, a drop in revenue increased their deficit to $680,951. This was covered by the district's fund balance, leaving them with $540,678 in reserves, he said.
"We're getting in less and having to try to fund the same programs," said Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope.
At the same time, the district's expenditures also decreased - from $10,013,487 in 2010-11 to $9,211,104 last year.
The audit revealed this trend needs to continue as District 19 faces some financial hurdles, such as less tax revenues than originally anticipated for the current 2012-13 fiscal year due to a "calculation error." This increases their $245,547 deficit, which they covered with their fund balance, to $695,547, according to the audit.
Rebecca Grubbs, the district's finance director, said they are working to remedy the issue, which the board will have to vote on. "We're definitely going to amend the budget" after the holidays, she said.
"We've got to decrease spending," said Pope, though there are some expenses they have no control over, including state-mandated raises for many employees this current fiscal year.
One cut comes in the way of Christmas bonuses for employees. "We're not able to do that this year," Pope said.
In light of the recent numbers, the board decided it would be best to use the Rural Education Achievement Program funds for staff development - an area of improvement from their accreditation. The federal funds normally cover Christmas bonuses for certified staff, while the general fund pays the rest.
Though she regrets not giving bonuses, Pope said that money has been getting "less and less" each year, and there was not enough money in the general fund to pay for the rest of the bonuses. "We've been very fortunate" until now, as many districts stopped that practice years ago, she said.
The district also used a $250,000 tax anticipation note, approved in October, to carry the district through financially until property taxes are collected.
Pope said she knows they won't be able to add to their fund balance right now, though "I would like to get back to that point."