Town Audit Will Focus On School Spending

The annual audit of Town of Sandwich spending will focus on Sandwich Public Schools in Fiscal Year 2011, said Town Manager George H. Dunham.

Mr. Dunham said he discussed the intention to focus the audit on school spending when he met with Shaun P. Cahill, chairman of the Sandwich School Committee, and incoming schools Superintendent C. Richard Canfield.

Mr. Dunham stressed that it is not unusual for the town to request a focus on a particular department’s spending—in fact, he said, the town picks a different area of focus every year. He also stressed that the request was not any indication of suspicion toward Mary Ellen Johnson, Sandwich’s previous schools superintendent, whose term ended last Thursday. Rather, Mr. Dunham felt that everyone involved, particularly the outgoing and incoming superintendents, would feel more comfortable to have a detailed review of departmental spending.

“Any time there’s a major change, it gets looked at. …If the selectmen asked me to leave, I think both I and they would want it done,” Mr. Dunham said.

“With a new superintendent coming in, it’s always nice to make sure that everything he’s being handed is nice and clean … [and] everything is being handled the way it should be,” said Town Accountant Doreen A. Guild.

Malloy, Lynch, Bienvenue LLP, an accounting firm with offices in Norwell and Brewster, has been the town’s auditor for the past two decades. The firm will again conduct the audit for FY11.

The audit reviews spending by all Town of Sandwich departments. Towns are required by state law to conduct such audits every three years, although Ms. Guild said that most towns she knows of conduct them annually.

The Town of Sandwich appropriated $35,000 in the accounting department budget for the full audit, but Mr. Dunham expects the focus on school spending will entail an additional charge. As of yesterday, he said, the town had not been given a price.

As for how Malone, Lynch Bienvenue’s review of FY11 school spending will differ from its review of other town departments’ spending, Mr. Dunham they will dig deeper, requesting bid documents, for example.

“They’ll probably randomly check those things a little more,” Mr. Dunham said.

As with any audit, Malloy, Lynch, Bienvenue’s audit will be published once it is finalized.
The audit reports always include suggestions on how to improve internal checks and balances to help protect the town, Mr. Dunham said, so some amount of criticism is par for the course.

An audit is not conducted to pat the town on the back for the accounting job it is doing. “They actually do the opposite,” Mr. Dunham said. The firm will be looking for ways the town can approve its procedures.

In all likelihood, the findings and recommendations from the FY11 audit will not be in until about a year from now. “We actually just finished the FY10 audit,” Ms. Guild said.

The town’s books on a fiscal year typically are not closed until several weeks after the fiscal year ends on June 30, Mr. Dunham said. The annual auditing process generally gets underway in September or October, Ms. Guild said.

“I don’t think there will be anything new,” Ms. Guild said. “I don’t think there will be any surprises.”



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