EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 4, 2013

Auditing firm gives town's books high marks

NORTH ANDOVER – The town’s financial records are reliable and accurate, according to the accounting firm that audited the books for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012.

Powers and Sullivan issued an unqualified statement, “the best you can get,” according to Richard Sullivan, a senior partner with the firm. Powers and Sullivan did the audit in October and “beat the heck” out of the balance sheet, Sullivan told the selectmen Monday night.

At that time, he said, the town had $191 million in assets, including $36 million in cash and $12 million in accounts receivable. The collection rate for accounts receivable is 98.5 percent, which Sullivan said is very good.

He advised the selectmen to increase the stabilization fund to 5 percent of the annual budget. The level is now about 3.5 percent, he said. Sullivan also warned the board the town will have to start posting as a liability other post-employment benefits, the amount paid for health insurance carried by retired municipal employees.

“This was a good audit,” said Sullivan, who credited Finance Director Lyne Savage and her staff for their professionalism.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor has set a goal of keeping the amount the town pays on debt service each year to less than 4.75 percent. The rate is now about 5.45 percent.

“We want debt service to be below the stablization fund,” selectmen Chairman William Gordon said.

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