EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 25, 2012

Missing invoice sparks budget confusion

Bill for $10,010 causes drop one year, spike the next

By Dustin Luca

---- — PLAISTOW — A lost billing invoice led to a budget line for athletic training doubling in one year within the Timberlane Regional School District’s budget.

A $10,010 invoice for services paid to Northeast Rehab by the district in 2011 was lost at some point, according to George Stokinger, the district’s business administrator.

Once the error was discovered, the bill “was paid late. It was paid in 2012,” Stokinger said.

To anyone not aware of the late invoice, the difference appears as a $20,020 jump in spending, as seen on budget documents put on the district website last week. In 2011, the district spent $20,485, while it spent more than double that — $44,570 — the following year.

But if you move the value of the invoice back a year, everything lines up, according to Stokinger.

”If you move that $10,000 back to 2011, you have a nice, smooth trend,” he said.

Northeast Rehab provides trainers for athletic teams and games at the district’s middle and high schools. The company’s contract was budgeted at $34,320 for the current school year. The amount requested next year is $37,130, an 8.2 percent increase.

What happened with the bill exactly isn’t known. Stokinger said a number of things could have taken place, including the invoice getting lost in the mail.

For the coming year, $13,750 is requested for middle school athletic training staff, while $23,380 is slated for trainers at the high school, Stokinger said.

Disappearing invoices are a rarity in the Timberlane’s business office. When asked how frequently it happens, Stokinger cited just one other example — a recent phone bill that was later recovered and paid.

”We had a phone bill that didn’t show up one day. We had to chase the company for the phone bill,” he said. “It just fell over into the next school year.”