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ORDA issued positive audit

July 6, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The state Olympic Regional Development Authority was given a positive "unmodified opinion" by auditors at its board meeting Tuesday, June 27, CPA Alan Walther of the Bonadio Group said, relaying the "highest level of assurance" the group gives on financial statements.

"During our audit, we did not identify any deficiencies with internal control that we considered to be material weaknesses," Walther said. (We) disclose no instances of non-compliance."

Walther said as of March 31 of this year, ORDA's financial statements present the authority's financial position fairly.

Article Photos

State Olympic Regional Development Authority CEO Mike Pratt (far right), seated to the left of ORDA Board Chair CEO J. Pat Barrett, issues his President’s report at the authority’s board meeting held Tuesday, June 27 at the Conference Center at Lake Placid.
(News photo — Antonio Olivero)

In presenting the authority's annual financial report, Walther said the authority's assets at the end of March were $6.1 million, with a total current liability of $15 million and long term liabilities of $55 million.

Walther added that ORDA's total net position as of the end of March is $19.2 million. The authority's total operating revenues for 2017 were up to $33.7 million from $26.4 million.

"Clearly that was an effect of a much better winter," Walther said.

ORDA's operating expenses this year were $54.4 million versus $51.9 million for 2016, and the authority's operating loss for the same respective years decreased to $20.7 million from $25.4 million.

In terms of non-operating revenue, contributions from the state and the town of North Elba decreased to $4.7 million this year versus $9.7 million last year.

The authority's net position for the year decreased to $3.3 million versus $5.4 million in 2016.

"The total operating expenses of $54 million versus $51 million, even though they were up relatively speaking, they really came in a lot relative to last year," said Joe Kelly, ORDA vice chairman.

With cash flow, ORDA used $8.9 million of cash in its operations this past year and had a positive cash flow of $5.1 million for non-capital financing and $6.1 million for capital financing. The results was a net increase in cash of $2.4 million added to the prior year, yielding a year-end cash total of $3.6 million.


Other findings

Walther added that the authority has a current discrepancy of $16,000 and said management is "looking into it." He also said ORDA has 50 outstanding payroll checks going back as far as 2014 totaling $3,000. He also added that the authority's depreciation system is not calculating "exactly as it should."

"Follow up with internal control findings," Walther said. "Again, we've discussed them with (ORDA CEO) Mike (Pratt) and (Director of Finance) Peggy (Evatt). I think the only thing that might be an open issue is depreciation, that is kind of a system thing."


President's report

Pratt described his first three months as permanent CEO as "very hectic." Work completed included ORDA joining the "Ski M.A.X. Pass" program, a large cooperative promotion at ski resorts that allows pass holders to visit each of ORDA's mountains five times for a flat rate.

"The product has tripled in sales since last year," Pratt said. "The majority of the growth has been in New York mountains, and (we are) expecting our mountains to take advantage of that."

Touching on current improvement projects, Pratt said the authority is currently constructing a ski tunnel underneath the access road at the gondola lifeline at Belleayre Mountain Ski Resort in the Catskills. Pratt said it would make it much more easy for skiers to do round trips and expects it done by mid-December."

"This is transformative to our area of the Catskills," Kelly said, who also added he anticipates the improvements will entice private entrepreneurs to the region.

Pratt also relayed what he described as a "more sobering message" in terms of ORDA "aggressively addressing" safety.

"Our experience modification has been rising slowly," Pratt said, "but our cost for worker's compensation has been rising dramatically and we are actively instilling a culture of safety in all of our venues.

"Throughout the whole organization it's something that has to happen to make everybody more safe," he continued, "productive and efficient, and will affect the company's bottom line. The alternatives are not good, (we) would have to pursue self-insurance potentially, or taking on a lot more risk through a high deductible plan. It's too simple not to jump on this and have a safe workplace."

Pratt also announced that the authority is expanding its Department of Environment Planning and Construction, headed by Bob Hammond.

"ORDA is too big an organization not to have a department of the environment," Pratt said. "Too many regulations."

Pratt also mentioned how ORDA recently hosted the vice president of planning for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.



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