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Baldwin hires accounting firm

| Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A third-party accounting service will be brought in to help Baldwin Borough leaders clear up what they say are minor issues in financial reporting that were cited in the municipality's latest audit.

Council members, in a unanimous vote on Aug. 19, agreed to hire Donnelly-Boland and Associates to provide accounting and business support services, at a cost not to exceed $10,000.

The firm, with offices in Brentwood and Baldwin, will help borough leaders prepare for the municipality's 2014 audit, borough manager John Barrett said.

“I think we want to give the taxpayers' full confidences that when these report are issued, it's clean; we're doing everything that the accounting principles out there require. Right now, that's just not happening,” Councilman Kevin Fischer told his colleagues at a recent meeting.

Baldwin operates with a small financial staff that is led by Barrett, Fischer said. Some municipality's produce a basic financial report each year, while others do “comprehensive annual financial report,” with much greater detail, Fischer said.

“We're stuck somewhere in between,” he said.

Baldwin's 2013 audit that was recently presented to council did not include any errors, Barrett said. Yet, the audit found “material weaknesses” that include how bank reconciliations and how record keeping was done, Fischer said.

“The world of local government is becoming a little more complex,” he said.

All municipalities are required to submit an annual financial report to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Barrett said. Baldwin has not had any comments from the state for years, Barrett said, going as far back as he could find reports.

Baldwin does not have a certified public accountant or director of finance position, as some municipalities do, to handle these issues, Barrett said.

“We have our own kind of system,” Barrett said.

Fischer said the addition of outside accounting services will also help to free up time for the borough staff some they can focus on other tasks. Bringing in a third party also will help increase accountability for borough funds, he said.

Baldwin Borough operates on a $19 million budget, with a $10 million general fund.

Borough council in recent months has formed a finance committee, under Fischer, who serves as council's finance chairman.

That committee will get a first look at the borough's budget in the upcoming months before it is presented to council as a whole, Barrett said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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