LAPS clarifies audit findings

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By Carol A. Clark

The director of business services for Los Alamos Public Schools responded to a story in Thursday’s Monitor regarding unaccounted for capital assets.

John Wolfe said the nearly $7 million in capital asset adjustments, which auditors indicated had to be made in the capital assets account for the 2006-07 school year, was an accounting adjustment and does not reflect a loss of cash or property.

“The story refers to an audit from the fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2007, in which the auditors indicated $6,671,129 in adjustments had to be made in the capital assets,” Wolfe said.

“We would like to assure the public that no assets are missing and this $6,671,129 adjustment does not reflect any actual cash dollars or tangible property. It is strictly an accounting adjustment made to the value of buildings, improvements to buildings and construction in progress since the capital assets were overstated for the year ended June 30, 2006.”

Los Alamos Public Schools conducts an independent audit each year in compliance with New Mexico Public Education regulations, he said.

The Accounting and Consulting Group LLP, conducted the audit for fiscal year 2006 and fiscal year 2007. The 2007 report was presented to the Los Alamos School Board at their June 10 meeting, almost a full year after the close of the 2007 fiscal year, he said.

Wolfe clarified the fact that the district is not writing off the loss, as written in Thursday’s Monitor story titled, “Almost $7 million in assets is unaccounted for at LAPS.”

“It’s just an adjustment to the books to reflect the actual value of our property,” he said.

Wolfe added that $575,674 was made to depreciation that was understated as of June 30, 2006.

As opposed to Thursday’s story headline suggesting “assets unaccounted for,” Wolfe explained the capital assets are now accurately accounted for and said details related to the reconciliation of capital assets can be found on page 52 of the district’s 2007 Financial Statements posted on the LAPS website www.laschools.net.

Audit Manager Jeff McWhorter of Accounting and Consulting Group LLC, indicated in his presentation to the LAPS Board of Education at their June 10 meeting that “there was no abuse or mismanagement in the district,” Wolfe said. “He also stated that the district was receiving the best possible audit opinion.”

If in fact the district had a significant loss, Wolfe said, this would have resulted in a less than favorable audit opinion.

“Furthermore, in the June 13 Monitor story the headline regarding the LAPS audit presented at the June 10 school board meeting indicated ‘Audit shows healthy numbers,’” Wolfe said.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, he presented the audit response addressing the findings of the 2007 audit report to Secretary of Education Veronica Garcia. The response is a New Mexico Public Education Department requirement.

His response regarding capital assets stated: “The schools hired an appraisal company that completed a physical inventory. Another consultant was hired to update the accounting system with tag information, current book values of fixed assets, and assigned a depreciation schedule to each asset. The schools has been tagging all assets costing more than $5,000 with a fixed asset tag; additionally, all computer assets (over $500) are tagged and tracked according to the state audit rules.

“The comptroller has attended fixed asset training and she/her staff is insuring that fixed assets are properly tracked and updated in the accounting system.

“Additionally, the auditors indicate that $6,671,129 in adjustments had to be made from the prior year, but this was exacerbated by incomplete or missing working papers from the audit firm’s FY 0-06 audit.”