Audit shows big improvement in Cobleskill finances


By Jim Poole

It was late last fall when an independent audit found the Village of Cobleskill’s finances in a tangled mess.
What a difference 11 months make.
That is, 11 months and the work of Sheila Wilday, whom the village board hired in March to straighten out the books.
The firm of Mostert, Manzanero & Scott, CPAs from Oneonta found a “major breakdown,” “material errors,” “significant deficiencies” and overspending in Cobleskill’s 2016 finances.
Released last December, the audit made it appear that village officials had no idea how much money Cobleskill had on hand or had spent.
“That was a huge concern when I walked through the door,” Ms. Wilday said.
A second audit done by the same CPAs and released earlier this month shows a nearly complete turnaround in the financial records.
That’s largely because village board members turned to Ms. Wilday, who had been clerk from 1987 to 2013.
“You really need someone in there familiar with government finances, and that’s Sheila,” Mayor Linda Holmes said Monday.
The latest audit lists the past problems and then credits Ms. Wilday:
• “. . .the Village hired a former Clerk who corrected many of the errors. . .”
• “. . .the rehired former clerk corrected the errors she found and was able to reconcile the bank accounts. . .”
• “By the date of this report the Clerk had corrected many of these errors.”
• “We recommend the clerk continue with the work she is doing. . .”
• “The current clerk has not been repeating these errors and this needs to continue.”
Ms. Wilday said she had to go through every ledger entry for 2017 because they were either entered incorrectly or weren’t there.
She then matched the general ledger to the bank statement to correct many of the errors.
An audit hadn’t been done on Cobleskill’s books since Ms. Wilday left in 2013, she said, “because the bookkeeping was so bad the auditor said he couldn’t do it.”
It was more than incorrect bookkeeping that led to the critical 2017 audit. Office personnel were on maternity leave the last quarter of 2016, and the village’s computer system crashed.
“The computers are up and running the new software, so I think we have everything fixed,” Mayor Holmes said.
At the same time, however, it took Ms. Wilday to make the corrections.
“I lost a lot of sleep,” she said, laughing.