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East County college district keeps record intact of multiple clean audits

Posted on: Dec 20, 2010 1:00:00 AM
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Contact: Della Elliott

East County college district keeps record intact of multiple clean audits

 

EL CAJON – It happens with such regularity that it seems almost routine.

But those in the number-crunching business are quick to point out that the top marks that Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District received this month from auditors for the seventh consecutive year are not to be taken for granted.

The state-mandated audits are conducted by a team of a half-dozen independent auditors who scrutinize the district numbers in an ongoing process that starts anew at the start of every fiscal year.

The reports presented at a governing board meeting Tuesday give the district a clean bill of health on five separate audits for 2009-2010.  The certified public accounting firm of Christy White Accountancy gave “unqualified” or “clean” opinions for the district’s general audit; its alternative pension plan; Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges’ foundations; and the district’s auxiliary.

The governing board is expected to receive financial and performance audits in January for its Proposition R construction fund, the $207 million local bond approved by voters in 2002.

An “unqualified” opinion is the best type of report to be issued from an external auditor, indicating no deficiencies in internal control or compliance, accountants James Hawley and John Dominguez told the governing board. 

The auditors said the college district’s business department does an outstanding job of recordkeeping, with a well-organized tracking and reconciling of income and spending that helps the auditing process go smoothly.

Governing Board President Bill Garrett said the board is always pleased to see such strong audits.

“They verify the district’s ongoing history of careful and deliberate management of public resources and are proof that we have accurately accounted for the collection and expenditure of taxpayer monies,” he said.

Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said clean audits are critical because they provide an independent accounting of the district’s ledgers and are used by financial institutions, government agencies and others for bond ratings, fundraising, or oversight purposes.

“Years of clean audits reflect the conscientiousness of district and college staff,” she said. “The public can be assured we are transparent in our handling of taxpayer dollars.”

At a time when the district is already suffering from a $15 million budget shortfall for the current year, the audit report noted the state’s reduced funding while enrollment is climbing could further affect the district’s finances. The state only provided funding for the equivalent of 17,939 full-time students, leaving almost 3,000 students unfunded.  

The district will face additional budget challenges in the 2010-11 fiscal year with a $13 million delay in funding from the state, the auditors said in their report. With enrollment figures on an upward trajectory, the district is once again expected to have more students than its funding apportionment from the state. 

Miles said the district’s ongoing cost-cutting has been painful, with course reductions for students and vacant positions going unfilled at the same time there’s increasing student demand.  But these actions, along with the clean audits, reflect the district’s commitment to prudent spending, she said.

Additional highlights of the audit:

  • Net assets for the fiscal year increased by nearly $8 million due to an increase in financial aid revenue and decreased interest expense related to long-term debt.
  • Total assets increased by $2.8 million or less than 1 percent from the previous year, mostly based on increases in capital assets.
  • Total liabilities decreased $5 million, or 1.95 percent, mainly due to lower annual payments of general obligation bonds and accrued interest in 2010.
  • Total net capital assets increased $20.3 million, or 8 percent, primarily due to three construction projects at Grossmont College: a multistory parking structure, health and sciences complex and the student & administration services renovation; and at Cuyamaca College, the learning resource center expansion and remodel.

The audits presented to the governing board are available at

http://www.gcccd.edu/district-business-services/annual-audit-reports.html . For more information about the district, go to www.gcccd.edu.

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