Vermont is triple-A rated, and state auditor Tom Salmon wants to keep it that way — even if a tropical storm named Irene created havoc.
The state completed its comprehensive annual financial report for the 2011 fiscal year by the Dec. 31 deadline, but only after Vermont and the auditing firm KPMG sent soaking-wet documents to Massachusetts for freeze-drying.
“Finishing the audit affects the state’s bond rating and overall stability,” Salmon said in an interview. “It’s vital for going to our investors, especially when we’re coming out with a general obligation series. Audits do matter.”
Before the storm hit on Aug. 28, the state’s audit team — only 13 persons, the smallest such staff in the country, according to Salmon — and KPMG had been working on the accounts at the Agency of Natural Resources in a small room in the basement of the state office complex in Waterbury.
When the building flooded that weekend, documents that were essential to the audit were submerged in dirty water and mud.
“The water line was up to the four-foot mark,” Salmon said. “Despite people having put them on tables, they weren’t in good enough shape to be used.”
KPMG ordered trucks to the site, and workmen transported the documents to Massachusetts.
One audit team was moved from Waterbury to the National Life Building and the Agency of Transportation.
Another had to move from capital city Montpelier. The staff and KPMG completed the audit shortly before Christmas.
According to the audit, Vermont had net assets of $1.6 billion, consisting of $3.2 billion in total assets offset by $1.6 billion of liabilities.
It also revealed that the state’s general and special obligation bond debt had increased $36.8 million over the previous fiscal year to $509.6 million.
KPMG declined comment, citing client confidentiality.