October 22, 2021 |

Past accounting practices at the Saratoga Town Hall continue to haunt the books. The firm hired to prepare the 2020 audit has requested a change order.

Tim Fixter with the firm Fangant, Lewis and Brinda of Lander informed the town in an email dated October 13th that the audit is taking more time than anticipated. The auditors are running into problems.

Mayor Creed James told the town council this week that the additional work means a bigger fee. Straightening out the messy books is going to cost several thousand more dollars than the terms included in the original contract. So the change order is needed, the mayor said.

Pictured above: File photo of Saratoga Town Hall/Police Department. Photo by Cali O’Hare/Bigfoot 99.


Mayor James said the firm has run into a number of issues. According to the email sent to the town and seen by Bigfoot 99, past policies and procedures resulted in a lack of documentation. The auditors have run into “numerous holes” as they try to reconcile and test the books. One of the conclusions, said Fixter, is that past firms “kicked the can down the road” on some of the issues. The bottom line, the town will not receive a clean audit.

Mayor James said no one should be surprised.


Fixter stated in the email that the audit will likely come with an adverse opinion— something that previous administrations had hoped to avoid. The past aversion to fix the problem led to drama at public meetings, and only prolonged inevitable. That’s where the town is now.

Mayor James said the auditor recommends fixing what can be repaired and set policies in place to avoid the mistakes that led to the current problems.


The Fixter email concluded that past problems were the result of poor coaching of town employees by the outside accountants who were hired to supervise the process and establish policies. Personnel changes compounded the problem, the email notes. Fixter added that the inability to produce a clean audit is the result of poor record keeping, not something “malicious.”

Councilman Jon Nelson, who first raised questions about the bookkeeping practices at Town Hall said the findings are expected, and in some ways refreshing after a series of audits that tried to paper over the mistakes.


Councilman Ron Hutchins, who joined the meeting by phone Tuesday night, said he agreed with Nelson’s assessment.


Mayor Creed James said Fixter and his team at the Lander firm were complimentary of the current staff at Town Hall in their efforts to help with the audit. The additional cost to finish the 2020 audit could run as high as $7,000, Mayor James said. Council unanimously approved the change order so the work can wrap up and the auditors can move onto 2021, which ended on June 30th.

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