BREC Receives Unmodified Audit for 2020 Financial Statements
BREC’s external auditor, Postlethwaite & Netterville, has submitted an unmodified opinion, the cleanest opinion an agency can receive, for BREC’s 2020 financial statements to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) as required by state law. The financial statements, which have not yet been reviewed by the LLA and were delayed this year due to COVID-related issues, show that BREC continues to remain in good financial health.
BREC manages over $300 million worth of assets across East Baton Rouge Parish, an annual budget of approximately $80 million, and approximately 1,000 employees. Revenue in 2020 totaled $76.8 million with expenses totaling $74.9 million. Both revenues and expenses were lower than the prior year due to pandemic-related closures, operating modifications, hiring, and procurement and shipping limitations on some materials and supplies. BREC closed all of its facilities on March 16, 2020, which was a week prior to the Governor’s stay-at-home order for all Louisiana residents, and subsequently reopened its golf courses with strict limitations on April 30th followed by the reopening of the Baton Rouge Zoo with restrictions on May 21, 2020. While 2020 revenue from collected service fees was down by 27.5% from 2019 due to closures and limitations, operating expenses were also down by 5.2% for the same reasons. Construction projects did, however, continue with some even being expedited in an effort to stimulate economic activity during the hard times brought on by the pandemic. BREC also rolled back its millages and raised its minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2020.
The audit resulted in two findings related to timely reconciliation of accounts and another due to a budget adjustment not being made to account for lost self-generated revenue due to the closure of facilities and cancellation of programs. The auditor’s management letter also offered some recommendations for improving the reporting of capital construction costs, which BREC is working on with the implementation of its new financial reporting system, and refining policies and procedures for more timely deposits and more oversight of gift cards. It also recognized the fact that BREC self-reported two instances of misappropriation of public assets to the LLA in 2020. The reported misappropriations included a break-in at one of its maintenance shops that resulted in $7,589 worth of equipment being stolen. The other reported incident involved an employee who fraudulently reported time worked and was subsequently terminated and required to pay restitution.
“The BREC leadership team takes seriously its responsibility to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. As it was for most, 2020 was a particularly tough year for us, as we began a multi-year implementation of a new financial software, Tyler MUNIS, the same system used by City-Parish for financial reporting, shortly before the pandemic forced everyone to work from home and limit contact,” said BREC Superintendent Corey K. Wilson. “Along with the rest of the world, BREC staff had to learn to get all of their day-to-day work completed remotely where possible in addition to working on this major software implementation in the midst of all of the uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic. The new software did go live at the beginning of 2021, but we continue to work on fully implementing all of the system’s functionality and to define, refine, and streamline processes and improve internal controls where necessary,” said Wilson.
Once the audit is finalized by the LLA it will be posted to this link which shows all BREC audits going back to 2003: http://www.brec.org/Finance.