Spencer renews contract with CPA firm despite delays

Published 12:10 am Thursday, August 11, 2022

SPENCER — The Spencer Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday night to renew the town’s contract with R.H. CPAs for one more year, despite the fact that the town’s audit was apparently just filed, nearly 10 months later than it should have been.

Audits are typically done in October, but the town did agree to an extended deadline of May when the firm had two big issues arise.

First, the small firm apparently had nearly all of its staff come down with COVID, according to board member Sam Morgan.

“A big part of the problem was also that former audits were done by hand, with paper copies, which made it difficult for this firm to find all of the information they needed,” said Morgan. “Every time we turned around there was something else, but most of it was not their fault.”

At the board meeting in July, frustration among board members had become palpable. Mayor Jonathan Williams noted that the town would not tolerate similar delays for another year. He said switching auditors and changing from performing an audit by hand to the electronic model was a big switch and needed to happen for the town, but it has taken too long.

“There were reasons for it at the beginning,” Williams told the Post in July. “Now I’m not convinced the reasons for the delay are satisfactory.”

However, Williams, Morgan and board member Andrew Howe all concurred that at this point, when the current fiscal year of 2021-22 has just ended and another audit needs to be started, finding a new firm at this late date could be near impossible.

“It would be virtually impossible to get someone else at this late date,” said Howe. “And we are going to have to put this out to bid in January (for the 2022-23 year) regardless because the federal government has new requirements on how audits are done, so if we have to deal with it for one more year, we can manage. And that does not mean we won’t consider hiring this firm again. They have an opportunity to build a good relationship based on how they handle this year. But either way, we will be looking to build a new relationship come January, either with a new firm or with this one under the new guidelines.”

“Spencer has gone through a lot of changes in the last four years,” added Morgan. “There has been a lot of turmoil, and so many records have been hard copy only, so it’s been challenging across the board. And we are deep into needing the audit started for this year just past, so finding a new auditor at this late date would be beyond hard.”

Nick Wicker of R.H. CPAs told the board Tuesday that the audit is in, and was incredibly apologetic about the delays.

“I can absolutely assure you nothing like this will happen again,” he said. “We appreciate your patience and your willingness to work with us again, and you have my word this year will be much smoother.”

“I do want to be sure that no one thinks the town staff is in any way at fault here,” said Howe. “They have done everything they can to accommodate. I was always taught you don’t overpromise or under-deliver, but since they have now gotten the information all in digital format, I am open to letting them see if they can now be more efficient with what they have designed.”