Completion of Snow Bowl redevelopment audit delayed until April

By Susan Mustapich | Mar 17, 2017
Photo by: Kim Lincoln Completion of an audit of the $6.5 million Snow Bowl ski-area redevelopment is delayed until April.

CAMDEN — An audit of the Snow Bowl redevelopment project will not be completed until April, according to a March 17 press release from the Town of Camden.

The audit was announced by the Camden Select Board on Jan. 11, one week before former Town Manager Patricia Finnigan resigned. The Board voted to pay $12,000 for the audit, and announced that it was expected to be done by Feb. 15. The town hired RHR Smith & Company of Buxton, which specializes in governmental and nonprofit audits and accounting services, according to the company's website.

"Town of Camden staff and representatives of the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Foundation met with the auditor on March 14 to discuss the pending audit regarding the Snow Bowl redevelopment project," according to the March 17 press release. "The parties are diligently seeking an accurate and informed audit report, which requires internal fact checking separate and aside from the efforts of the independent auditor."

The press release continues, "The audit has been delayed due to the amount of material which required review, the travel schedules of principals and the weather."

The audit will not be completed until April, according to the release, because of travel schedules and "the additional effort involved."

Select Board Chairman John French has described the audit as a detailed analysis of town spending from 2012 to 2016 on the Snow Bowl redevelopment project.

The $6.8 million dollar expansion of the Snow Bowl's trails, snow-making equipment and lifts was completed in January 2015, and funded by $4.5 million pledged by the Ragged Mountain Recreation Area Foundation and a $2 million bond approved by Camden voters. Originally, the $6.5 million project included construction of a new lodge at the Snow Bowl, but cost overruns announced in 2015 ate into the funds for the lodge. RMRAF has pledged to raise an additional $1.6 million needed to build the lodge.

The timing of the audit is also connected to an investigation by a private citizen of the town of Camden's financial management of the Snow Bowl redevelopment.

Chris Morong who joined a short-term Snow Bowl Budget Team in 2016 grew concerned about Finnigan's financial management practices, and filed a Freedom of Access request with the town to access financial information he was unable to obtain from Finnigan.

Morong received Finnigan's response to his FOAA request in mid-December, then met with the Select Board to review his findings at the end of December. Within three weeks of that meeting, the audit was under way, and Finnigan was no longer Camden's town manager.

The Select Board has not commented on any connection between the audit and Finnigan's resignation, citing confidentiality of personnel matters.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at smustapich@villagesoup.com.

Comments (1)
Posted by: RALPH KELLEY | Mar 18, 2017 13:10

They must have had a lot of snow, to hold up the audit for two months. Could there be other causes???



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