Town of Pinedale aces financial audit

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PINEDALE – The Town of Pinedale once again received an unmodified opinion on its financial audit – the highest rating a government entity can garner, announced Tim Fixter of Summit West CPA Group to the Town Council on Monday, Sept. 11.

Over the course of the town’s audit, accountants at Summit West CPA Group examined Pinedale’s financial statements with a fine-tooth comb, sifting through a “mountain of information” and processing hundreds of samples to “identify areas for improvement and provide a fresh set of eyes,” Fixter explained to the council.

At the conclusion of the audit, the accounting firm declared the town’s financial statements to be “correct and accurate” and that Pinedale’s internal controls worked well, Fixter said.

“By and large, the audit went very well,” Fixter added. “The town places high expectations on its staff, and the staff met those expectations. Pinedale has the right people in the right places – people who care about the town.”

Accountants made several “findings” – areas where the town can make improvements – in the audit, Fixter told the council. Findings consisted of “minor housekeeping items” like voided checks and the need to update employee files and software, Fixter continued.

Fixter emphasized that the findings were “relatively small items” that the town was able to quickly “square away and take care of.”

The audit also inspected the town’s use of federal dollars, particularly in the form of grants, and reported no findings, Fixter announced.

Fixter praised the town for managing its budget and avoiding overspending while carrying out multiple projects during the previous fiscal year. Pinedale maintained “consistent” cash and revenue streams, made sound investments and was in a good position to grow its reserves, Fixter noted.

Fixter credited town staff for pursuing grants to fund projects and finding other “creative” means to save money.

The Pinedale Town Council set a positive tone, Fixter said, and was always willing to communicate with the auditors and provide “knowledgeable” answers to queries from accountants. Pinedale’s cooperation contrasted with some municipalities where governing bodies or staff were not forthcoming with financial information, Fixter added.

“I am always impressed with the (Pinedale Town Council’s) good ideas and ways to move the town forward,” Fixter remarked.

Federal audits are performed on the previous fiscal year and are triggered when the town reaches a certain threshold in spending federal dollars, Mayor Matt Murdock explained to the Roundup. Pinedale scheduled its audit earlier than usual to accommodate schedules for folks at Summit West CPA Group and to prepare the necessary paperwork to submit to the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) for grants related to projects like the new airport fuel farm, Murdock added.

As a result of Pinedale’s willingness to complete the audit process early, the town received a 10-percent discount on the accounting fee charged by Summit West CPA Group, Fixter said.

Fixter delivered a “huge thank you” to town staff for working well with accountants throughout the audit.

Mayor Murdock also expressed a “big thank you” to staff.

“It’s great to have staff who are concerned about the town’s finances and keep these things on their radar,” Murdock added.

Shallow water main replacement update

Council members unanimously passed a motion to submit a request for qualifications to select an engineer to carry out design work for the shallow water main replacement project in Pinedale.

The project encompasses the removal of existing main waterlines and service lines beneath Quartz Ave. and a portion of Jade St. and Shanley Ave. and the installation of new pipeline to reduce problems with freezing water lines and to conserve water.

The estimated cost for the project is $1,258,000 and the town is pursuing a loan through SLIB to fund construction and engineering, said Abram Pearce, director of public works. If approved, the shallow water main replacement loan qualifies for zero-percent interest as a green project, said Pearce.

The town may also qualify for a 25-percent loan forgiveness, Pearce said. SLIB meets on Oct. 5 to consider the town’s loan application and determine whether the town will receive loan forgiveness, Pearce continued.

The deadline for engineers to submit requests for qualification for the waterline project is Sept. 29. Pinedale’s goal is to select an engineer this fall or early this winter and to put the construction phase out to bid over the winter with the hope to begin work during the 2024 season, Pearce said. He called the proposed timeline an “aggressive schedule.”