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'Above average' financial management noted by Norwich auditor

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published February 04. 2014 4:00AM
City's surplus healthy, bonded debt well within state law limitations

Norwich - The city's auditor gave a glowing audit report to the City Council Monday, calling the city's financial management "above average" in comparison with other Connecticut municipalities and issuing no recommendations for improvement or notices of deficiencies.

Gerald Paradis, a partner in the audit firm Blum Shapiro of West Hartford, presented a summary of the 136-page audit of the 2012-13 fiscal year to the City Council Monday, saying the city is in sound financial shape, including the city's management of state and federal grants along with locally generated revenue.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary to bring to your attention," Paradis told the council.

During the 2012-13 fiscal year, the city received about $51.8 million in state grants, including the $32 million received in state Education Cost Sharing grant - and another $10.5 million in federal grants. Paradis said the audit firm "tested" seven city programs that received state grants and five programs that received federal grants and found no issues in any of the reviews.

The city finished the 2012-13 fiscal year with an undesignated fund balance of $10.2 million, about 9 percent of the city's annual expenses. Paradis said that percentage "is somewhere in the middle of the range" of surplus recommended by bonding attorneys and bonding agencies.

The city government's total bonded debt decreased by $3.9 million during the current fiscal year, the audit report said. State law limits the amount of general obligation debt a governmental entity may have to up to seven times its annual receipts from taxation. Norwich's $44.2 million debt is at 12 percent of that limit.

The city also finished the last fiscal year with a surplus of $467,000 over the actual budget expenditure of $114.1 million. The general government, public safety, public works, human services and education portions of the budget all had lower than expected expenditures. The city also received reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for costs associated with Hurricane Sandy and last February's blizzard.

Alderman Mark Bettencourt asked Paradis how the city compares to other cities and towns audited by Blum Shapiro.

"You are above average in how the books are maintained and the capabilities of the personnel," Paradis said. "You have a good operation here."

c.bessette@theday.com

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