Certified public accountant Mike Miller has for several years been double-checking Unity Township’s financial accounts and has prepared annual reports that have to be filed with state agencies such as the Department of Community and Economic Development.
The township supervisors would like to expand his duties to include a full annual audit, taking over many of the responsibilities of Unity’s elected auditors.
The supervisors are expected to hold a special March 19 meeting to officially act on that plan, so that Miller can conduct Unity’s 2018 audit. March 31 is the deadline for completion of the audit, according to township solicitor Gary Falatovich, and Miller’s team from Latrobe’s Richard B. Guskiewicz Associates has begun work on the items he already examines for an existing annual fee of up to $22,750.
The proposed full-blown switch to a CPA is “just another move toward the 21st century,” Falatovich said after the supervisors’ regular meeting this week. “Unity Township is one of the last larger townships not to replace their elected auditors.”
If the move is approved, the elected auditors’ sole remaining function would be to set wages for supervisors who are on the township payroll, as a roadmaster or in any other position.
With jurisdiction over the full audit, Falatovich said, the CPA could submit formal recommendations regarding township fiscal operations and could follow through with reports that have been lacking from the elected auditors.
“I respect what the auditors have done and their willingness to come in and spend time to go over the books,” Falatovich said. “I am not saying from time to time they didn’t bring something up if they had any question or issue, but there are no formal reports that we can find, and there is supposed to be a formal report.”
The auditors, he said, never submitted letters to each township supervisor and department head so that any of the parties, in the event of an internal disagreement, could contest the audit with an appeal to the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas.
Supervisors Chairman John Mylant said two of the elected auditors, Chairman Greg Fumea and Michael O’Barto Jr., have indicated they’re on board with the plan to surrender their auditing duties to a CPA. Fumea on Thursday confirmed his support of the move.
“I’ve enjoyed being an auditor,” Fumea said. “At the same time, I want to do the best thing for our township.”
He said he’d been unaware, until a recent meeting with the supervisors, of the reports the auditors were expected to submit.
“Our township has been running well,” Fumea said. “As we audited, we always questioned anything that we didn’t understand.”
Longtime auditor Faye Musick, who noted she has served in that role for 21 years, protested against the planned switch. “I don’t feel we should be denied going through the books,” she said.
Musick said she has not been receiving mileage reimbursement or the $10 hourly compensation to which an auditor is entitled. Township officials said a former chairman of the auditors, Tom Baumann, offered to forgo the compensation and none of the remaining auditors had since submitted a bill for payment.