School Board hires Boca Raton firm to conduct district audit

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY-The Indian River County School Board voted to support the selection of a Boca Raton accounting firm to conduct the School District’s audit, over objections from School Board Chair Matt McCain.

McCain urged his fellow board members to reconsider their position and instead select Kmetz, Nuttall, Elwell, Graham, PLLC, of Vero Beach. “It’s a fantastic CPA firm,” McCain, a fellow account, told the board, saying that he knows the firm would be more than capable of performing the auditing work.

The School District has 25 schools or departments that have internal accounts that will require auditing.

The selection committee chose Mayer Hoffman McCann primarily due to the firm’s level of expertise, according to Director of Purchasing Richard Chuma.

The committee consisted of an elementary principal, a high school bookkeeper and staff from the Finance and ESE departments.

Only 20 points in the scoring process separated the two firms.

The Boca Raton firm also outbid the four other responding companies, coming in the lowest at $17,600. The Vero Beach firm’s bid was $875 higher.

McCain told his fellow board members that Kmetz, Nuttall, Elwell, Graham PLLC was willing to match the Boca Raton firm’s bid.

“I’m probably tilting at windmills,” McCain said as he continued to argue for the local firm.

His fellow School Board members said that they appreciated his push to keep the work local, but that a selection process was in place and needed to be followed.

School Board member Jeff Pegler said the board needs to make decisions that are in the best fiscal interest of the district and decisions that protect the system.

Fellow member Claudia Jimenez agreed, telling the board that they should be careful to not undermine the process.

McCain reminded the board that the Vero Beach firm has employees who live in Indian River County, pay county taxes and send their children to Indian River County schools.

“I know I sound like a broken record,” he said, adding that he would like the board to reconsider, “because really this is the kind of stuff that if we’ve got people capable of doing it here, we need to keep it here for people who pay property taxes in our county.”

School Board Attorney Usher “Larry”  Brown told the board that their only options were to accept the Boca Raton firm or throw out all the bids and send out a new request for proposals.

Sending out a new request would have allowed the district to specify the ability of local vendors to attempt to match out-of-area vendors’ bids.

Chuma explained to the board that price was worth only 15 points of a possible 100 points individuals on the selection committee could award. The selection committee felt that the Boca Raton firm had more expertise than the Vero Beach firm, he added.

“We have to respect the process and we certainly don’t want to undermine the work of the team that is made up of professionals who are put in place to make these decisions,” School Board member Karen Disney said.

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