The town has established a new ad hoc committee responsible for hiring a firm to audit its yearly finances.
Officially formed by Town Council President Justin Pare on Oct. 23, the committee will begin its search for a new firm to conduct the annual audit in November. Councilors Mark Gould, John Costello, and Dan Donovan will sit on the committee, with Gould serving as its chair.
The decision to find a new auditor comes as the town’s contract with Roselli, Clark & Associates, an accounting firm based in Woburn, expires this year. Roselli, Clark & Associates has been the auditor for the town since 2019. A recent review conducted by the firm reported that the town’s reserve funds were stable and that its debt rating was positive. Donovan said the town decided to look for a new firm to conduct the annual audit at a lower cost.
“Now that their contract has expired, we felt that it was good fiscal practice to go out to bid and see what other firms have to offer,” Donovan said. “Our first step will be reviewing the comprehensive request for proposal originally put together by Councillor Joann Cathcart to see what changes, if any, we want to make.”
As part of the hiring process, the committee will submit a public request for proposal and will review individual bids from firms. Gould said one of the qualities he is looking for is if a firm has a great deal of experience in accounting, as auditors are required to look at the town’s finances to see if there are any discrepancies. Additionally, Gould said he will be asking the candidates how they will work alongside town finance officers and determine if they can establish a working relationship with them.
“They need to have experience in public accounting, the ability to work with town officials and the ability to create working relationships with our town finance officers to get the data needed and for follow-up requests,” Gould said. “The ideal candidate needs to not be afraid to tell it like it really is.”
Gould said it was his idea for a special committee after reading last year’s audit. Gould said he found some missing reports that Roselli, Clark & Associates deemed “essential.” He suggested to the council that a committee would be able to conduct a thorough review of the audit report as a form of oversight.
“There were missing reports that had been noted by the auditors as essential, but had not been provided to the council,” Gould said. “The audit is one of the few things the charter empowers the council to do. The audit committee will be essential to provide accountability and transparency with town finances.”
Costello agreed with Gould and added that he is looking for a firm that can be transparent with the council and voters. Costello said the committee will be meticulous in the bid review process and will take the town budget into account when selecting their candidate.
“Hiring a quality accounting firm to audit the town’s finances is integral to honoring that goal,” Costello said. “By the same token, we will evaluate all bids and choose a firm that makes sense for our needs and budget.”