Readers may well recall a number of embarrassing and costly misdeeds committed by municipal and agency officials in our region in recent years.
How could such abuses occur? Investigations showed that insufficient policies, procedures, oversight, and internal controls were key in some way.
For most residents, “audit” means checking the accuracy of accounting entries and financial statements. But egregious financial abuses in the private sector about 10 years ago (Enron, Tyco, Worldcom are names one might recall) made it clear that lax operational controls, not strictly financial controls, entailed risks that had dire consequences for financial survivability. A new term, enterprise risk management, suggests the broadened nature of today’s audit activities.
The Longmeadow Charter Transition Team provided details to govern the Audit Committee created under section 7-9 of the Longmeadow Charter. The section Duties of the Audit Committee lists:
- Recommends and evaluates the independent auditor for the town.
Encourages and recommends an audit plan base on town-wide (including schools) risk assessment developed by department heads and the town manager.
- Reviews annual financial statements of the town financial offices and the independent auditors financial recommendations.
- Reviews the efficacy of internal fiscal controls and encourages corrective action on those control or accounting issues identified in the independent auditor’s “management letter”.
- Reviews the Town’s bonded indebtedness and makes recommendations for maintaining desired bond rating.
- Recommends the use of special counsel or experts to assist in study work.
- Is a resource to the Select Board and School Committee on financial issues.
- Surfaces opportunities for cost and efficiency improvements.
- Orients new members and encourages continued education of its members.
While the Audit Committee is strictly advisory, this lists of duties indicates the Committee can have a major influence on the operations and financial stability of the Town.
The Audit Committee has two voting Member vacancies and two non-voting Associate Member vacancies to be filled on July 1 of this year. Residents with experience in accounting, finance, law or general management are urged to apply. It’s a great spot from which to get to know your town government and to help make it more effective.
You can learn more about the Audit Committee on the town website and the Longmeadow Community Bulletin Board where you can find the Annual Committee/ Board Vacancy Notice with an application form and other information.
Applications must be received at the Select Board office by 4:00 p.m. May 11, 2009.
Ernest Welker, ChairLongmeadow Audit Committee