By Jackie Gorski
WINONA LAKE – Winona Lake Town Council approved an agreement Tuesday, Sept. 12, with Baker Tilly for financial services to help get the town’s books up to date.
The agreement comes after bookkeeping issues have developed in the clerk-treasurer’s office over about the last year.
The proposal is for 100 hours, not to exceed $25,000. If more work is needed, an additional agreement will need to be approved.
Town Manager Craig Allebach said the agreement was a scope appendix to an original engagement letter from Baker Tilly dated Feb. 23 for financial services.
Dan Hedden, partner at Baker Tilly, said Baker Tilly was asking to participate in the project to get the town current. He understands the town’s books are current until December 2022. So they need to focus on January 2023 to present. Baker Tilly will also be a resource to keep the town current as needed.
Hedden said Winona Lake is not alone in its situation and there are many communities that have issues.
Hedden said during the project, Baker Tilly will take all of the data completely out of the account and reconcile it with databases. They compare that to the banking transactions.
There’s always a list of things that don’t match up. That list is the size of the problem they deal with it. The items can deal with nonsufficient funds, credit cards and payrolls. He said the issues usually come back to people where they make a mistake and they try to make a correction in a wrong way and it snowballs on itself.
Once Baker Tilly has the raw data it is working with, they will look at it for the common data points and will “bucket” the information together.
One of the things that Hedden said Baker Tilly wants to get finished is the town’s June financial data. This is get the June reconciliation done so the 2024 budget can be done without any issues.
Also, the final report from Baker Tilly will include documentation of what was done to fix things. Baker Tilly will also work with the clerk-treasurer’s office to get the information inputed into the system.
Councilwoman Ashley McGinnis brought up her concern where the money was going to come from since they’re at budget in some funds. She said she knows the council talked about doing an additional appropriation.
Allebach said he sent an appropriations report to Paige Sansone, of Baker Tilly.
“We’re going to work to appropriate that money” for the agreement, Allebach said.