Thursday, September 23, 2010

Audit Presented To Electric Co-op Board

By John Severance

SOCORRO -- The Lubbock, Texas, accounting firm Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert and Moss presented a draft report of the 2009-10 audit to the Socorro Electric Cooperative Board of Trustees at a special meeting on Thursday.
During a presentation in open session, there was little in the way of information, though, regarding the termination of two managers Polo Pineda Jr. and Kathy Torres.
The accounting firm’s Randy Robbins asked the trustees to move into executive session to discuss accounts involving personnel. The trustees met for close to an hour and a half in executive session.
During the open session, Robbins told the board that the firm had identified 18 accounts that needed to be reconciled.
"There are material weaknesses with numerous accounts un-reconciled," he said. "The amounts aren't necessarily significantly off, but they need to be reconciled."
Before Robbins gave his presentation, the trustees debated the need for a forensic audit.
Trustee Charlie Wagner insisted the board vote on the matter because the board had decided the previous day to make the vote on Thursday.
Vice chair David Wade, who was running the meeting, “You guys are putting me on the spot.”
Wagner said, “All it takes is a vote.”
Trustee Donald Wolberg chimed in, “We should hold off until we hear from the auditors.”
In addition, trustees Jack Bruton and Leo Cordova were not in attendance and trustee president Paul Bustamante was not at the meeting yet although he showed up later.
The trustees then heard from the accounting firm about the audit. After a lengthy presentation and an executive session, the board moved back into open session and brought up the forensic audit issue again.
“We have an urgent problem,” Wagner insisted. “We have just fired two employees and I know you are just trying to get votes.”
Despite parliamentary procedures to the contrary, Wade said he was tabling the vote.
Bustamante came out of the meeting during executive session and said there likely would be a special meeting to vote on a forensic audit. That meeting has been tentatively scheduled for Sept. 7.
And at last Wednesday’s meeting, Wagner handed out information from BKD of Springfield, Mo. Wagner said this firm was recommended to him by the legal office of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
A bid committee took place Tuesday and the co-op looked at bids from BKD and two other companies. A special meeting will be held Sept. 7 to vote on whether to have a forensic audit. And if the co-op decides to have a forensic audit, it will vote on which company will conduct the proceedings.
On a related note, Bustamante was asked about the status of the inquiry committee.
“It’s not dead,” Bustamante said. “We have to see where it it leads.”
When Wolberg contacted the Mountain Mail Friday, he was asked about Bustamante’s comments regarding the inquiry committee.
Wolberg just laughed before saying that shutting down the inquiry was foolish.
Wolberg also wanted to say he was not exactly in favor of a forensic audit because he didn’t like that term.
“We have to make sure that a loss has not been incurred by the cooperative,” Wolberg said. “These auditors have done a very detailed job. But my biggest concern is for the members and we need to regain their trust. The only way we can do that is to get a much more detailed report on the finances.”
• Co-op retained services of attorney Paul Kennedy to help in defense of counterclaims.
• Co-op accepted an interim budget but interim manager Richard Lopez will come up with a more detailed and easier to read budget for next month’s meeting. Operations manager David Montoya asked for a service truck and the board said it will get bids for the truck and authorize Lopez to put the money in the revised budget.
-• Lopez said the co-op will be more proactive in its collection efforts from delinquent accounts. “We had been a little lax in that department,” Lopez said.
• A clarification from last week: Wagner is considered a representative of the class of “unnamed defendants” being owners of the Socorro Electric Cooperative.
• Milton Ulibarri announced his resignation as a representative fo the NRECA. The trustees will have to vote on another representative at its next meeting on Sept. 22.

No comments:

Post a Comment