Forest Park received a good report card for the fiscal year ending April 15, 2015, from Crowe Horwath, the village’s auditor, officials learned at the Nov. 23 Village Council meeting.
Bob Grapenthein of Crowe Horwath spoke in positive terms as he provided a summary of his firm’s findings, noting that all opinions in the audit are unmodified or “clean.” Opinions were given for the financial statements, Tax Increment Financing funds, and federal compliance regarding the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance grant the village received.
Despite the challenging economic climate, Forest Park actually increased revenue and held expenditures flat in the general fund over the previous fiscal year. In FY2015, revenue was $17,043,702, up from $16,818,914 in FY 2014, and expenditures were $18,250,836, down slightly from $18,376,757.
Grapenthein noted that even though revenues fell short of the budgeted amount, expenditures also came in under budget, which he termed a “very positive sign.” He explained that few municipalities are able to adjust spending to compensate for lower revenues as Forest Park did.
Forest Park’s total assets also increased in the primary government fund, which Grapenthein explained is “everything mooshed together.” Total assets at the end of FY2015 were $60,790,023, up from $58,075,246 at the end of FY2014. The majority of that increase came in cash and investments, up from $13,680,753 to $16,026,050.
Grapenthein also noted no fraud detected or suspected; no significant or unusual transactions entered; and no uncorrected misstatements. He also said his firm did not encounter any significant difficulties, nor did they have any significant disagreements with management.
Grapenthein cautioned village officials that next year’s audit would tell a different story, following implementation of changes required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. GASB Statement 67 revises existing guidelines for the financial reports of most pension plans for state and local governments, including those of Forest Park. In essence, GASB delinked annual funding in relation to the plan document from pension accounting.
Because of these changes, annual pension expense will be based on a comprehensive measurement of the annual cost of pension benefits and no longer be a simple function of annual funding amounts, which Grapenthein estimated could increase the village’s liabilities by $10 million to $20 million.