vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Schools, county continue talks on budgets

An audit on carryover funds in the schools from fiscal 2011 is off to a good start,  county staff told the board’s finance, audit & budget committee Tuesday.

The “special audit” comes after supervisors voiced concerns over aspects of the school system’s budget. Auditors held their first meeting with school staff earlier this week.

“There was some acknowledgment of the fact that there had been some misinterpretation of implementing things that you guys had appropriated to them, they acknowledged that and said they are working with us and indeed they are,” said Shelley Carmichael, controller/assistant director of finance. She said a lot of issues surfaced, without prompting.

“That’s encouraging,” said supervisor Susan Stimpson.

Carmichael said the audit should be complete “fairly quickly.”

Here’s the text of a letter from the auditors, addressed to Carmichael:

The initial entrance conference for the Review of Internal Controls over Implementation and Adjustment of Stafford County Public Schools Budget was held August 20, 2012 at 2:00pm. The start of the engagement was delayed due to several factors. When the job was awarded, access to the schools was delayed. Once this issue was resolved and Cherry, Bekaert and Holland had free access, our engagement team was booked on other engagements. We are using a separate engagement team from the audit teams to allow for total objectivity in evaluating the controls. The engagement is scheduled and advancing.

Over the summer, County Administrator Anthony Romanello and Superintendent Randy Bridges met with other school staff to discuss budgets.

“We’re very, very close to understanding the numbers,” Romanello said. More information will be reported to the joint School Board and Board of Supervisors at a meeting sometime in September. “I think we’re in a really good place,” he said.