Monday, February 18, 2008

Good News About Bad News from the Audit Report: Driving Positive Change

After years of late city audits and limited discussion about them, Debbie Campbell’s dedication to the importance of an audit and sound management of taxpayer money has paid off, aided by Terry Cohen’s added voice of fiscal responsibility and accountability on the council. Here, Campbell and Cohen discuss their specific efforts to bring about positive change. February 14 found our hard work on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Salisbury paying off. Council had a productive work session that arrived at consensus on a number of important next steps toward rectifying the growing financial mismanagement of our city that has escalated in recent years, according to our audit reports.

1. We responded to the administration’s request for staffing in the Internal Services Department without unsoundly throwing bodies or money at a problem before we’ve determined its root cause. In the short term, the current auditor will provide personnel to bring up to date delinquent reconciliations as far back as August 2007

2. We successfully advocated for bidding the services of a regional auditor to examine the city’s financial status, as well as the long-term staffing needs for efficient and reliable operation of our city’s financial department. This will result in recommendations to remedy the financial mismanagement that has plagued the city for years.

3. We ensured that the 5-year competitive bid process provided for in the charter was honored with a decision to bid out the annual audit.

The city still has funds illegally deposited in an uninsured/uncollateralized account. Unfortunately, the council president adjourned the meeting early, before we could address charter changes needed to increase accountability and restore checks and balances. We will continue to pursue these important components to ensure the health, efficiency and soundness of our financial and governmental operations.

“The City did not prepare timely, accurate, and complete reconciliations of all cash and investment accounts….The lack of timely reconciliations and reviews…has impaired the City’s ability to report reliable financial data.”
-- Trice Geary & Myers LLC
Certified Public Accountants/Business Consultants

To read more, contact Campbell or Cohen for copies of the audit communications or internal control letter.