To the editor:
As the sponsor of Article 45, “Enhancements to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,” I would like to share the intent of the article and the benefits that will accrue to the town with its passage.
Contained in this article are provisions that will make a positive contribution to the town audit by facilitating the public’s access to audit information and providing a more open and independent process for reviewing the final audit report.
I was motivated to pursue this citizen’s petition after reviewing five fiscal years of town annual audit documents produced by the town’s independent auditor (Powers & Sullivan LLC), certified public accountants and the report of a consultant (Clifton Larsen Allen LLP) the town hired in 2021 to assess the operations of the Financial Services Department.
I also consulted with and reviewed publications of various state and federal organizations with expertise in government auditing. These included the Government Finance Officers Association, the Massachusetts Association of Municipal Accountants & Auditors, the Massachusetts Association of Finance Committees, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue/Bureau of Technical Services, Massachusetts Municipal Association and Massachusetts Office of Inspector General.
After also meeting with various town officials, it became apparent to me that the town Finance Department could improve on the manner in which it chooses to make information contained in the audit report accessible to the public and reviewed by the town’s stakeholders.
The town has a new and highly competent town finance director who has a herculean effort ahead of her in managing the town’s financial affairs, all while implementing major technological improvements to the town’s budgeting and accounting systems. Therefore, before the new fiscal year gets underway, I would argue it is equally critical to also put in place the practices contained in Article 45, which the aforementioned experts recognize as among the best for reporting and reviewing a municipal audit.