Spring Lake Park given highest opinion on annual audit

Spring Lake Park received an unqualified audit opinion, the highest available, for its 2013 financials.

City staff was a little nervous going into the audit because they were working with a new firm for the first time in more than 20 years, according to City Administrator Dan Buchholtz.

Spring Lake Park hired Smith Schafer in November after submitting a request for proposals in September.

Spring Lake Park wasn’t unhappy with its previous auditor, Stuart Bonniwell, Buchholtz wrote in a memorandum to the council, but the audit timeline wasn’t feasible and costs continued to rise, he said.

The Office of the State Auditor sets the audit deadline at June 30 annually, and Spring Lake Park wasn’t seeing audit fieldwork begin until May or June, requiring an extension from the state auditor each year.

Additionally, the timeline had city staff working on the audit and next year’s budget simultaneously.

Smith Schafer offered a dramatic cost savings, too. Spring Lake Park will pay the firm $57,850 over three years, which represents a $28,275 savings from what the city paid for auditing services over 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Staff’s worries were for nothing.

“We’re very pleased to report it was a very smooth audit,” Jason Miller, certified public accountant, told the city council at its July 7 meeting. “We didn’t find any material misstatements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principals. … We had no concerns whatsoever.”

When City Accountant Peggy Anderson heard that, she brought Buchholtz a Wendy’s Frosty ice cream treat to celebrate.

“I’ll take those any day,” Buchholtz said, smiling.

Council members found Smith Schafer’s assessment cause for celebration, too.

The best news for Councilmember Larry Raymond was the simple statement that there were no issues to report, he said.

“That makes us all feel pretty good when you come up that direction,” he said.

In addition to looking over the city’s revenue streams, expenses and reserves, Smith Schafer looked to see how Spring Lake Park’s books compare with neighboring cities.

Spring Lake Park is keeping expenditures low, Miller said. Of Minnesota cities with populations higher than 2,500, Spring Lake Park ranked 168th of 227 in total spending.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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