“New world’s record” and “awesome” are not words generally uttered by accountants delivering audit reports to town governments, but that’s what the Millville Town Council was treated to on Tuesday, Aug. 15, when accountant Herb Geary of the TGM Group approached the council dais.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Geary said of Millville’s financial picture, which he gave the “highest level of assurance that an independent firm can provide a local government.”
Geary praised the work of Finance Director Lisa Wynn as well as Town Clerk Matt Amerling, Town Manager Deborah Botchie and Finance Assistant Anna Scarola, on the work they did preparing for the audit and throughout the year.
“Lisa’s got your financial administration running as well and as efficient as it could be,” Geary said. “This is a new world’s record for us. We’re several months ahead of the game,” he said.
“We’re looking for ways to make the Town more efficient, we’re looking for ways to improve internal controls, but I don’t think there’s much else we can really do at this point,” Geary said, adding that the only way he could think of to improve Millville’s handling of its finances would be to “segregate” financial duties more.
He added, however, that “without hiring another two or three people, which would make no sense whatsoever, there’s just no way you can completely segregate all the duties and responsibilities. Lisa and Debbie have come up with ways to mitigate any risk to the Town, so as your auditor, I’m very pleased.
Geary noted that the report’s “unmodified” status is the highest a municipality can get from its accounting firm.
The town council approved the audit report 5-0, after which Mayor Robert Gordon echoed Geary’s praise for the Town staff and said, “We’re probably one of only a few towns that are above water.”
In other good news for the Town, Deputy Mayor Steve Maneri gave his latest report on the town park, starting with, “We should have all our permits by now. And, hopefully — here we go again, I’m going to say it — we’re going out to bid soon.”
Gordon said the Town’s engineering firm, George, Miles & Buhr, “has to finish the finalization of the contract that we can send out,” which he said usually takes about four weeks, and that the Town expects to have a contract and have construction started by the beginning of October.
“I know it’s been three or four years in the making,” Gordon said, adding, “We’d rather do it right than sit there and jump into it and not have it complete, and then worry and scramble at the end, or postpone, because something was out of whack.”
“We are on full target … to start construction by Oct. 1,” Gordon said. “That’s why the pumpkin festival’s on the 29th of September.”
During the citizens’ privilege portion of the meeting, Coventry resident Dennis Hartline expressed concern about where the entrance to a proposed development, to be called Parkside, would be located.
Hartline said he feels the entrance should be on Dukes Lane, which will also be where the park entrance will be located, rather than the current plan for an entrance from Windmill Road.
“Dukes Lane is ripe for improvement; I think the road could stand improvement with the park being there and the kind of traffic it’s going to sustain. Right now, it’s one of the least-improved roads we have,” Hartline said.
“It seems like it all would come together quite nicely,” he said. “It gives them access to (Route) 26 very easily and to Windmill Road.”
“I wish you the best,” Gordon said when Hartline commented that he plans to speak to the state Department of Transportation about the plans. “That was one of our major concerns when we were looking to build the park — the roadway, the construction of the roadway, and was it going to be DelDOT pushing it to the Town because it would be for our benefit … and if that was the case and we were pushed to provide the upgrades on that road, I doubt if we would even have a park, because of the cost,” Gordon said.
Gordon said the Town will have a booth with the latest information on the proposed — and long-awaited — town park at the Sept. 29 pumpkin festival.
Another Coventry resident, Frank Vigna, asked whether the Town will have to take the lowest bid for the park project. Gordon assured him that the Town will have the ability to vet any companies that bid.
By Kerin Magill