Refuse authority gets a clean opinion on its audit

By: K. Michelle Moran | C&G Newspapers | Published December 8, 2020


GROSSE POINTES/HARPER WOODS — The Grosse Pointes-Clinton Refuse Disposal Authority’s member communities — the five Grosse Pointes and Harper Woods — got some good news during their last regular meeting of 2020.

CPA Lynn Gustafson, who handles the finances for the GPCRDA, delivered the results of an audit for the 2019-20 fiscal year during a Nov. 17 GPCRDA Board meeting via Zoom. The independent audit of the GPCRDA’s financial records was again conducted by Rochester Hills-based Ramie E. Phillips Jr.

“It’s a clean opinion,” Gustafson told the board. “There’s no management notices.”

Phillips offered the same assessment. In a letter to the GPCRDA Board, he wrote, in part, “In my opinion, the financial statements … present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of the Grosse Pointes-Clinton Refuse Disposal Authority.”

In the audit report, Phillips noted that “the largest variance” between the 2019-20 budget and actual expenditures was the money budgeted as a pension contribution. For 2019-20, the GPCRDA Board set aside $27,175 for a pension contribution, but it turned out the authority didn’t need to make a pension contribution because the pension was adequately funded.

“Ramie Phillips, our auditor, gave us a good opinion,” GPCRDA Board Chair Terry Brennan said after the meeting. “It’s another successful year for the authority. We look forward to another successful year (in 2021).”

On July 1, 2017, a higher administrative fee — which rose from $1 per ton of trash to $3 per ton — went into effect for the member communities, because the old fee was no longer covering expenses such as insurance and contributions to the pension system. Members have been paying the $3 per ton fee ever since then, and Gustafson said that seems to have been just the right amount.

“Our administrative fees are covering what we need,” Gustafson said. “Overall, the authority is doing well.”

At the Nov. 17 meeting, the GPCRDA Board also voted unanimously for a three-year contract extension to retain Phillips as the auditor, meaning he will remain on board for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscal years. Gustafson said Phillips said his rate for the audit “would go up no more than $300 for the year.” She said the reason for the rate increase is because more footnotes are required in future government audits, meaning additional work for auditors.

“It seems like a reasonable amount,” Brennan said.