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Audit finds Louisiana community colleges statements were off by $600k

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(The Center Square) — Central Louisiana Technical Community College bungled its financial statements last fiscal year by more than $600,000, repeating similar problems from the year prior, according to an audit.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack issued a financial audit for the Central Louisiana Technical Community College in Alexandria last week that examined finances for compliance with accreditation requirements and state and federal laws and regulations for fiscal year 2023.

Auditors found “the College did not have adequate controls in place over the preparation of certain areas of its financial statements, resulting in an overstatement of $627,951 for scholarships and fellowships expenses, an understatement of the same amount for receivables, and classification errors.”

The problems, they wrote, stemmed from “an undetected error in setting up billing detail codes in the college’s accounting system, Banner.”

While college officials implemented a fix between Banner Finance student receivables and Banner Student accounts, “it did not ensure that classifications from the reconciliation matched the receivables note disclosure which resulted in the receivables note disclosure not matching Banner Student accounts receivable subsidiary records,” according to the report.

“This is the second consecutive year we have reported weaknesses over financial reporting related to student receivables,” auditors wrote.

CLTCC Chancellor James Sawtelle partially disputed the finding in a letter to Waguespack on Feb. 20, concurring with the finding but arguing it “is not a reoccurrence of the FY 21-22 student receivable finding which has been resolved.”

“CLTCC remedied the prior year’s audit finding by developing and implementing a reconciliation between Banner Finance student receivables and Banner Student account receivable subsidiary records,” Sawtelle wrote.

He proposed a corrective action plan that involves Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Amanda Cain and others to “receive banner training for detail codes and student accounts receivable reconciliations.

“In addition, procedures will be implemented to ensure that detail codes are set up correctly and that Accounts Receivable note disclosure matches the accounts receivable subsidiary records,” Sawtelle wrote, providing an anticipated completion date of June 30.

Auditors found the college’s financial statements were otherwise fairly presented for last fiscal year. They showed the college’s net position increased 32% over the year to $17.8 million, due to several factors including COVID funds, an increase in non-credit training activities, and fewer expenses tied to three campuses moving to other colleges under the state’s community and technical college system.

The shift in campuses also led to a 36.7% decrease in enrollment, from 4,282 to 2,710 between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023.

“Prior enrollment adjusted for the transfer of operations was 2,845 compared to current enrollment resulting in a decrease of 5%,” auditors wrote.

Operating revenues were up 1.2% to $8.1 million, while expenses declined 8.9% to about $17.4 million. Non-operating revenues were at about $16.5 million compared to $16.8 in 2022, according to the report.