Lehigh Valley

Arena authority given "clean" bill of health in first audit

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The authority overseeing construction of Allentown's new hockey arena and development projects in the Neighborhood Improvement Zone got a "clean" bill of health in its first-ever audit.

The Wilmington, Del.-based auditing firm of Barbacane, Thornton & Company delivered its report Monday afternoon on the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority's performance in 2012, and the ANIZDA board accepted it on a unanimous voice vote.

Steve Kutsuflakis, a CPA partner in Barbacane, Thornton, said auditors began on May 6 looking at ANIZDA's financial state for the period of March 23, 2012 (when the authority was formed) through Dec. 31, 2012, and finalized their report last week.

Kutsuflakis characterized the time spent on the audit "a pretty quick turnaround."

The auditors found ANIZDA's numbers and statements of financial risks were satisfactory, and that the authority used appropriate accounting practices and estimates in evaluating financial statements.

"In other words, we are saying these are clean statements [in the audit]," Kutsuflakis told the ANIZDA board -- meaning that there were no suggestions that things were done questionably, or could have been done better.

At the end of Kutsuflakis' 15-minute presentation, ANIZDA chairman Seymour Traub called the audit "terrific," praising Barbacane, Thornton for "taking a very complex process and piece of legislation and capsulizing it very well."

Traub was still beaming after the meeting, saying, "An unmodified audit is the best you can get. It shows the [ANIZDA] staff, working with accountants, is on top of this."

Traub said getting high marks in an audit is as important as knowing that construction is on schedule and on budget for the various projects ANIZDA is overseeing.

An audit could point up problems such as controls not properly in place, errors when the authority signs off on spending or the improper use of funds, Traub pointed out.

But based on ANIZDA's first audit, "It appears we're doing a good job handling things," he said.

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