Auditors approve Oak Bluffs books, with criticism attached


An independent audit of Oak Bluffs finances reveals no material weakness or serious deficiencies in town accounts for fiscal 2010, but in a management letter, auditors suggested several areas that need improvement.

Powers & Sullivan, the town’s auditors, delivered the audit to selectmen Tuesday.

The management letter criticizes the town for a lack of formal polices and procedures that document financial operations.

“Since nothing is written down, we don’t have a benchmark to follow,” said auditor Jim Powers.

And the auditors criticized the lack of a centralized system to track sick leave, vacation, and compensatory time.

Mr. Powers also recommended the town assess its risk of fraud, comply with Massachusetts General Laws on student activity funds, and improve monitoring of revenue through better use of its municipal accounting software.

Mr. Powers said the town has improved its accounting practices considerably since his firm began its audits, but the financial difficulties of the past several years have taken a toll.

“When we first came in, it was about as ugly as it could get,” Mr. Powers said. “It’s gotten better. There are probably a few more points that are carried over [from previous recommendations] than we would like to see. You’re in a bit of a downward cycle.”

Selectmen voted to accept the audit and hire the firm to begin work on the fiscal 2011 audit.

Also Tuesday, selectmen appointed ambulance chief John Rose to the emergency management committee and formalized the appointment of the fire chief, police chief, emergency management director, and nominated the chairman of the selectmen to that committee.

They also reappointed Terry Appenzellar to the conservation commission.

The board held a closed door, executive session at the end of the two and a half hour meeting, to discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual.