Auditors find no faults with UFRSD’s finances


ALLENTOWN – The Upper Freehold Regional School District’s finances are in order.

Auditor Kathyrn Mantell, of Nisivoccia & Co. in Randolph, reported at the Board of Education’s Dec. 5 meeting that the school district has successfully been audited and that the auditors did not have any recommendations to make regarding the district’s finances.

“You had a good year,” Mantell said. “The goal is to try to make the budget level, and it looks like you are on level.”

Mantell said that the school district currently has a surplus of almost $500,000, consisting mostly of a tuition reserve the district set up this year and excess surplus from the previous year.

The tuition reserve is money the school district sets aside for adjustments to its send-receive student agreement with the Millstone Township School District, which undergoes an audit every three years.

The excess surplus from the previous year is a result of excess local revenue totaling $137,695 and excess state revenue for nonpublic transportation totaling $84,303, Mantell said.

Regarding the surplus, the school district’s business administrator, Viola Yosifon, said that the school district had an unexpected drop in health benefit costs last year because of the choices staff made when choosing their plans. She also said that the district saved a great deal on its prescription program.

Mantell reported that the school district has about 2 percent of unreserved surplus, which is in line with state regulations. She also stated that Yosifon had tried to help the district place the extra funds into capital reserve.

“Years ago you would have been able to if you saw that by June you would have more than 2 percent,” she said.

However, Mantell said that Senate bill 1701, the new budget cap law that represents the most significant change in school finance since the Comprehensive Educational Improvement and Financing Act of 1996, took that option away from the board.

“Now you can only put the surplus in capital reserve by public vote,” she said. “The board passed a resolution but ultimately couldn’t do it.”

Mantell said that a new funding law expected to be put into place by July 2008 may again give the board the option of passing a resolution to put the surplus into capital reserve.

Mantell reviewed the district’s capital projects fund and said that in April the district authorized a $13.2 million increase to the new middle school project consisting of $1 million interest and $12.2 in bonds.

She said that the school district sold $9.7 million in school funding bonds and realized $1.5 million in interest, of which $1 million authorized by referendum will be utilized for the new middle school project and the remaining $553,317, along with $2,961 of prior year interest, was transferred to the debt service fund.

She also reported that the school district spent $1.2 million on capital projects, $573,101 of which went toward the elementary school, $403,965 went toward the new middle school and $213,952 went toward the high school.

Of the debt service fund’s $710,077 balance, $253,586 was budgeted for 2007-08 and $456,491 will be budgeted for 2008-09.

With regard to long-term debt, Mantell said that the school district has $50.8 million in bonds payable, $1.3 million in capital leases payable and $178,023 in compensated absences payable on June 30.

Mantell also provided the board with a management report and said that the state requires auditors to address specific areas of the audit with the school district, such as payroll, contracts and the cafeteria program.

“There’s a whole slew of areas we have to audit, and what we came up with is that there are no areas that need attention,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools Richard Fitzpatrick said, “It’s extraordinary to have an audit report with no recommendations. That speaks to the nature of how our business office is managed and is a testament to the leadership of that office.”

He continued, “One person provides the leadership, and that is Vi [Viola] Yosifon. I hope everyone appreciates the leadership we have in her. Vi manages this with honesty and openness to protect us from ridicule and any suspicion of wrongdoing.”

Mantell said that the staff in the school district’s business office had been a pleasure to work with.

“Everyone in the business office was eager to have new people, new eyes and fresh ideas,” she said. “I felt like I walked into a daydream.”

Looking forward, Mantell said that the auditors and the business office staff have decided to thoroughly take a look at one specific area of the audit each year for making recommendations and improvements.