For the fourth time, the City of Warwick has requested and received an extension on the filing of their FY18 fiscal audit. Now the city will have until the week of July 22 to file the financial information for the fiscal year that began nearly two years ago on July 1, 2017.
Reached for comment at an event on Monday, Solomon said that requiring another extension was “disheartening.” He said that the city’s auditing firm, BlumShapiro, possesses all the necessary information from the city to file. The problem, he said, is that because of “vacations,” the firm doesn’t have the manpower to complete the work as of the most recent deadline that was set for June 30. The original deadline was Dec. 31, 2018.
Auditor General Dennis Hoyle said in a letter to Solomon dated Thursday, June 20, that he “reluctantly” acknowledged the need for additional time.
“As discussed on multiple occasions, I remain very concerned about the timeliness of the City’s financial reporting and am eager to receive a plan and commence discussion on ensuring marked improvement in the timeliness of the City’s fiscal 2019 financial reporting,” Hoyle wrote.
Reached by phone on Monday, Hoyle said he had talked to Solomon on Friday, who assured him that the audit would be filed by the new deadline.
“He assured me he'll be following up daily on the progress to make sure that happens,” he said.
The issues associated with not having a completed audit, at this point, might seem almost moot. Audited numbers are useful for ensuring that a budget can be completed with the most accurate financial data possible, including year-end projections and the accurate amount of money leftover within city reserves.
“It is imperative that the City submit the fiscal 2018 audit report no later than June 30, 2019 as the current lack of final audited operating results and fund balances impacts the reliability of projections for fiscal years 2019 and 2020.” Hoyle wrote in an earlier letter that granted the so-called “final” June 30 extension, dated June 6, 2019. “The City's fiscal 2019 and 2020 budgets utilize fund balance resources to support the budgets – ensuring such funds are available through final audited results is both prudent and necessary.”
However, Hoyle said that such delays in reporting audited figures could have other impacts on the city as well.
“Rating agencies will be looking at this,” he said. “I think they get concerned when they see delayed financial reporting.”
At the same time, Hoyle said he was still understanding that the city went through significant turnover within the finance department at the time Solomon assumed office last year.
“We're not unaware of some of the challenges,” he said. “We do understand.”
(With reports from John Howell)