I love how this works. The State Board of Accounts recently completed their audit of the city, and there were concerns over a lack of transparency in the city's financial record-keeping. This apparently keeps city officials from being able to verify all public cash and investment balances.
Naturally, our present Mayor, City Council President (who just happens to be my Democrat challenger in the Mayoral race), and at least one other City Councilman think there's nothing really wrong. Just a procedural issue, is all.
Among the State Board of Accounts' findings:
- undetected errors led to the city's bank accounts showing $317,630 more in cash being held than had been recorded as as December 31, 2010.
- concerns on oversight affecting fee collection.
- concerns on oversight of recording transactions.
- called into question a temporary loan of half a million dollars in tax-increment financing dollars to cover two city payroll payments. (which was done without knowledge or approval of city council).
Okay, let's examine those statements. I agree with Mayor England. We should have an updated computer system, but at the same time, I learned how to do bookkeeping with paper ledgers and a number two pencil. Shouldn't we at least expect something in the neighborhood of being able to write down a payment when it is received?
I agree with Council President Gahan. We need accurate record-keeping. Without resorting to a total housecleaning in the city controller's office, I would like a hard look taken at what the work load is, and how many people are needed to properly staff the office, because having one employee solely in charge of correcting accounting errors seems harmless, until you look at the eighteen months the employee has been on that task. I am a small business owner, and believe me, I have a year-and-a-half of accounting errors on my books, I'm probably going to wind up in an orange jumpsuit with a number on it. Why should the office in charge of the city's finances be allowed to make it up as they go along?
I agree with Councilman Caesar. A better bookkeeping system needs to be in place. As for his remarks about the systems in place not being enough for a city of our size, I find that to be no one's fault but that of the city council. For the growth they seek and obtain, they fell asleep at the wheel if this has become the state of the city's finances...again.
As for the popular assertions that "not a penny has gone missing," or "I don't really feel like there's any monies missing," how you you listen to those statements without wanting to stop the people making them, put an arm on their shoulder to steady them, and ask them just how in the hell would they know?
That will be my first act as your Mayor. To bring the city controller's office in line with what it should be for a city our size, and not only equip it properly, but staff it with accuracy, efficiency, and competency as a top priority.