Independent auditor Dave Burger gave the Public School System a rating of eight out of 10 in terms of handling its finances since fiscal year 2016.
Burger is the managing partner of Burger Comer Magliari LLC, the firm that has been auditing PSS in the last three years.
In his presentation last week at the CNMI Board of Education meeting on Capital Hill, Burger said PSS has a strong balance sheet with lots of assets and little debt.
In an interview with reporters later, he said that appropriations and federal grants helped PSS’ financial standing. “They are a solid eight. They have a strong financial statement, certainly helped by the supplemental appropriation of $10 million.”
“The CNMI government’s appropriations and federal grants went up. [CNMI] revenues were up and that helps everything. It allows [PSS] to spend more and still have cash left over.”
He added that PSS was also on time in settling some of its outstanding balances, except for compensated absences. “They [PSS] do not have any loans but [have] regular accounts payable, just like any other entity.”
“They do have liability for compensated absences—annual and sick leaves. It is on the books, about $3 million. I think they are current with their [Commonwealth Utilities Corp.] payments. There was an appropriation that allowed them to clear out their balance.”
Burger said that aside from that, PSS has clean reports. “They are on top of it and so far everything is in good standing as long as the [economic] activity keeps up,” added Burger.
He added that the CNMI government is on time with the budget. “The federal agency [money] came in a few days after Sept. 30. They have no bad debts. Overall, they have clean reports on everything—internal control and compliance, and federal programs.”
The supplemental appropriation of more than $10 million early this year also allowed PSS to spend more money in construction and repairs of other facilities. PSS, based on the audit report, has $87 million in total assets and $7.6 million in liabilities.