Annual state financial report late again

Boston Statehouse
Boston State House

Boston State House

BOSTON (SHNS) – The state comptroller is eying a mid-November date to deliver an annual financial report, a timetable that falls a couple weeks after a statutory deadline but lands earlier than in the past two years.

“If our projected date stays good, I think it’s fair to say it may not be ideal — it’s not ideal — but it’s at least a return closer to historical norms and in the right direction,” Comptroller William McNamara said Monday.

In each of the past two years, McNamara told the Comptroller Advisory Board, the Statutory Basis Financial Report has been filed “glaringly and worryingly far beyond” an Oct. 31 deadline.

In addition to discussing the reporting timeline, the board on Monday also unanimously approved a roughly $8,000 salary hike for McNamara, which Administration and Finance Secretary Mike Heffernan said would put him in line with pay increases already handed out elsewhere in the executive branch and comptroller’s office.

Every year, the comptroller must file by Oct. 31 the Statutory Basis Financial Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, part of the process of closing the books on that year’s spending and revenue. The ability to prepare the report depends on when lawmakers pass and the governor signs a final closeout budget.

Gov. Charlie Baker last Wednesday signed the $303 million closeout budget for fiscal 2021, and McNamara said his signature kicked off “an intensive process” of final transactions and accounting that is still underway. McNamara’s target date for issuing the SBFR is the week beginning Nov. 15.

McNamara, who became comptroller in March 2020, presented the board a timeline showing the SBFR delivery date since fiscal 2010, showing that it has often been issued late in recent years. It was filed on time, on Oct. 31, on three instances, and once eight days early, in fiscal 2012, when McNamara said he “would have loved” to have been working as comptroller.

There is past precedent for the report being filed a week or two overdue, McNamara said — aside from the past two years, when it has been more than a month late, the longest recent delay was when the fiscal 2017 report landed on Nov. 16.

Last year, amid the budgetary disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report was filed on Dec. 18. The year before, the fiscal 2019 SBFR was issued 67 days late, on Jan. 6, after an impasse between the House and Senate held up passage of the closeout budget until December.

“I would love to be back, and I will work to get us back, to the zero-days lag that we had before, but I’m glad that we are where we are,” McNamara said.

This year’s SBFR will be McNamara’s second as comptroller, and compared to last year, he’ll be earning a higher pay rate as he oversees its preparation.

The Comptroller Advisory Board signed off on a 2.5 percent retroactive pay raise for fiscal 2021 and a 2 percent increase for fiscal 2022, bringing McNamara’s annual salary from $176,624 to $184,600.

The comptroller’s pay is set by the advisory board and was last increased in 2014, Secretary Heffernan said.

The percentage boosts approved Monday mirror salary increases that the Baker administration announced earlier this year for all managers. Heffernan said those raises applied to staff in the comptroller’s offices but not McNamara himself, resulting in a situation where prior to the board’s vote, McNamara’s compensation was “actually less than that of the first deputy.”

First Deputy Comptroller Jeffrey Shapiro earns a salary of $183,433, according to the state payroll database maintained by the comptroller’s office.

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