Aspen School District financial audit taking longer than usual

Staffing, other factors impacting audit timeline

An Aspen School District bus parked in front of Aspen Middle School on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

An Aspen School District financial audit that ideally would have been completed by the end of December 2021 was still in progress as of Wednesday with more work to be done, district Chief Financial Officer Linda Warhoe told the Board of Education.

“In a perfect world the audit should be done by December 31,” Warhoe wrote in an email after the update. The district filed a 60-day extension through March 1, Warhoe wrote, but the work was still in progress then, as it is now.

The district is still “in the thick of this audit,” Warhoe told the board Wednesday. Number-crunchers aim to complete the audit within the next 30 days, auditor Paul Niedermuller from the firm CliftonLarsonAllen said at the meeting. The Board of Education hopes to review the audit at a May 18 meeting.

Warhoe told the board that a “staffing crisis” at the district and at the audit firm have made it difficult to complete the audit within the usual time frame.

Other factors also impacted the audit timeline, according to Warhoe and Niedermuller. The district has a new auditor this year after nearly a dozen years with the previous auditor, and it takes additional time to learn the district’s processes, both said.

Also, “the federal government did not issue their compliance information until January 2022, and that’s typically issued in August of the year before,” Niedermuller said.

“There were various extensions that were granted on the federal level that had a compounding impact with the audit firms as well as clients to prepare for those audits,” Niedermuller added.

He said he was “confident” the audit would be ready in the next 30 days but noted that it will still take some time to complete.

“We still have information that we’re getting, we’re still reviewing the financial statements,” he said. “We want to make sure we get this right.”

Board president Katy Frisch noted that the longer-than-expected audit process is a “procedural issue” that should not be interpreted as cause for concern about the district’s finances.

“As I’m hearing it, it’s not something to be concerned about our financial viability or our capability, but rather just the process — that it’s taking longer than it should,” Frisch said.