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December 17, 2013
Independent auditor gives ‘best grade’ to school district

Independent auditors examining the Tooele County School District’s 2012-2013 financial records have issued a positive report.

“The opinion we issue on your basic financial statements is an unmodified opinion,” said Matt Geddes, audit and assurance department supervisor for Squire and Company, an Orem-based tax, audit, and financial advisory firm. “This means that we do not need to modify or qualify the opinion. It is the best grade we can give.”

Scott Rogers, Tooele County School District superintendent, is pleased with the audit’s results.

“It was a ‘clean opinion’ and was without any significant findings. There were no reportable matters,” he said. “We are working hard to control budgeted costs while maintaining best practices and essential educational services for our students.”

The audit found that the school district’s net position, the difference between its assets and liabilities, increased by $4.5 million to a total of $111.3 million in the financial year ending June 30, 2013.

The auditor attributed the increase in the district’s net position to increased tax revenue, donations, insurance revenue and a $500,000 increase in state support.

The district tracks expenses and revenues in five funds: general, debt service, capital projects, food services and student activities.

In 2013 the combined expenses of all five funds exceeded the revenue and other income sources by $180,000, lowering the district’s combined fund balance from $22.3 million to $22.1 million.

The capital projects fund was the largest contributor to the deficit. It dipped into its $11.9 million fund balance to cover a $1 million shortfall between revenue and expenses. However, the original 2013 budget forecasted a $1.6 million shortage in the capital projects fund.

“It is our capital projects fund, and not the general fund, that is being depleted,” said Rogers, “due mostly to decreased capital funding from the state of Utah and other variables.”

The district’s general fund boosted its fund balance by $100,000 rising from $8.2 million to $8.3 million at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

The general fund balance includes a $3.5 million reserve for economic stabilization, a legislative authorized contingency to help cover unexpected state budget cuts, disasters, or other immediate capital needs.

The audit noted that, due to increases in state and federal grants, general fund revenue increased by $1.2 million in 2013 while general fund expenses dropped by $1 million.

Rogers credited staff, employees and former Superintendent Terry Linares for their efforts to put the district in a positive financial condition.

“It was a tightening of the belt and sacrifices around priorities by our staff, employees and board members,” he said. “Superintendent Terry Linares and the entire finance department also deserve some credit and commendations.”

General administration expenses, which includes the board of education, the business department, human resources and the superintendent’s office, along with legal services, auditor services, liability insurance, banking and other services, and supplies for those departments, totaled 0.93 percent of all general fund expenses.

“According to statewide data, comparatively, we are one of the very leanest operating of school districts in terms of administration per pupil expenses,” said Rogers.

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