For the second year in a row, TAPS Public Transit received an unmodified opinion and returned no major findings, compliance issues or weaknesses in its annual audit. The transportation agency had a string of reports of material weaknesses and other deficiencies in recent years following the company’s financial crisis in 2015.
This marks only the second time since at least 2013 that the organization has received such an opinion from its auditors.
“I am very happy to say, for the year ending Sept. 30, TAPS received an unmodified opinion, a clean opinion, on your financial statements,” Michelle Biermann-Treschwig, an accountant with Kushner LaGraize, said to the TAPS board. “This is the best opinion, so congratulations.”
Bierman-Treschwig went on to commend the efforts of the board and TAPS staff for their ongoing work to correct issues related to the organization’s previous accounting and bookkeeping practices that played a role in its near collapse around four years ago.
For the 2018 fiscal year, TAPS’ net position increased from a $1.9 million deficit to being in the red by just $109,039. Biermann-Treschwig attributed this increase in position in part to the settlement of several lawsuits. In total, TAPS saw nearly $1.65 million in “debt forgiveness” related to these cases.
With this debt relief, Biermann-Treschwig said TAPS’ ongoing debt improved from nearly $3.4 million to about $2 million.
Similarly, the report saw a decrease in TAPS’ operating loss over the past year. The agency saw a decrease in its operating deficit from just over $861,000 in 2017 to $365,402 in 2018. Biermann-Treschwig attributed this in part to a reduction in depreciation due to the retirement and sale of some of the transit provider’s aging fleet.
The report also noted that TAPS invested more than $550,000 in new vehicles in 2018, with capital improvement expenses of nearly $590,000. This shows a significant increase over 2017 when these expenses represented only $70,000 of the organization’s expenses.
Biermann-Treschwig went on to commend TAPS for its ongoing efforts to stabilize in the years following the financial crisis.
“It is well noted that you guys are working hard to reduce your liabilities and improve your operations and increase your net position,” she said.
For his part, Transdev General Manager Josh Walker said the next step in TAPS’ ongoing recovery will be to increase its operations and the trips it provides.
As an example of these efforts, Walker said the organization is considering investing in a new mobile application that will allow riders to hail a ride from their phones. However, he said that project is still in the early concept phase.