District gets clean audit report

Published 10:26 am Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Almost without qualification, the Austin School District got a clean bill of health from school auditors on Monday.

The board accepted the annual report during a work session of the board.

“When auditors say they have a short, brief thing (talk) to give you, that’s good,” said Kimberley Hillberg of CliftonLarsonAllen, the company hired to do the 2015 audit of school finances.

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She added that there were no issues raised during her firm’s examination — save for one. The company suggested the district review its Student Activity funds, where there were some funds that seemed to be inactive. Inactive funds should be closed or addressed in some fashion.

“And that is just a suggestion; overall, it is very clean,” she said.

She added the district could be proud of its business staff for its work to “have all their ducks in a row,” she said.

The general fund posted a balance of $9.7 million, a good show of health, she said. All operating fund balances showed positive balances except for the Health and Safety fund which showed a deficit of $207,068. The fund has posted a deficit for every year of the last five. Hillberg said the deficit had to do with “timing as much as anything else” and the fund will go away when the Minnesota Legislature’s new longterm facilities fund replaces it.

“There is nothing of any concern,” she said. “A good report.”

In other business Monday, the board:

•Tax abatement: Agreed to a five-year tax abatement request by Holly LeVallie under the new Austin Housing Initiative. A new home will be built in Turtle Lake Estates with a project cost of $500,000. The difference between the bare land tax and improved property tax will be waived for five years. The request must also be approved by the city and county.

•Compensation: Agreed to revisit school board compensation during the organizational meeting in January. Local board members receive $3,600 a year, a figure that has not changed since 1990, according to data collected by board member Don Leathers.