Considerations of the Audit Investigation
With all the chest thumping going on about how CM Coffey is going to be discredited and how he has 'supposedly' embarrassed himself by "going after" Garner on some sort of "whitch hunt", we feel compelled to assert our continued support of Coffey's resolution. It is Garner who has turned this thing into an ugly political football by making so much noise about his objections to having an investigative audit done.
We also want to express our support of CM Blevins for doing the right thing by voting in favor of the resolution. He understands that the monies of the City MUST be reconciled with the findings of the State Audit. That can only happen if the Council follows the recommendation of the State and conducts their own inquiry into the financial condition of the City and all its related departments.
Once again, our friend blogtastic has presented our contentions regarding this investigation into the monies very eloquently.
Therefore, we are posting the following in the hopes that everyone will understand that this endeavor is the best thing to come out of that Council room in quite some time. We hope you will read these words from the perspective of realizing that the money we refer to is YOUR money. Don't you think you have a right to know what's happened to it before they come asking for more?
Finally, we would like to point out that controller Kay Gerry, although very concientious in her work, has not been handling the financials for the sewer fund, which is our greatest money sucking concern.
The outside accounting firm of Melheiser, Endric, Tucker has been conducting all the financial reports for the Sewer Board. We're not even sure if outsourceing our financials is completely in keeping with accepted procedures. At any rate, explaining the discrepencies of this fund is going to be outside the relm of Mrs. Gerry's knowledge.
So, without further muddling of blogtastic's well articulated reasoning, we now present the most rational discussion of the issue that we have had the opportunity to consider:
On June 17, 2006, Mr. John Tucker penned an opinion that opposed any outside investigative audit of New Albany’s finances, and somehow tried to twist any such attempt to initiate such an audit to the ongoing dispute of Scribner Place and a vision for the city’s future.
As a city resident and taxpayer for the past 23 years, I have seen firsthand this fiscal mismanagement of New Albany’s finances. The audit in question, for year 2004, was just the latest in a series of audits performed by the State Board of Accounts which reflected poorly on New Albany.
Since the audit results were made public a few months back, many of us implored the mayor’s office to initiate an audit. When it became apparent that he was not willing to perform an audit, whether by his own administration or outside auditors, we asked our city council members to do likewise. The request for an audit was not tied to any sentiment on our behalf about Scribner Place, nor was Mr. Coffey’s resolution tied to some “latest attempted murder of Scribner Place.”
Mr. Tucker states that, “Yelling for an audit plays to the fears and mistrust of the public.” It is a shame he places so little trust in the intelligence and perseverance of New Albany’s citizens. We fear nothing, but rather know that a full accounting of how our monies are being handled is long overdue.
So contrary to what Mr. Tucker asserts, Mr. Coffey was not trying to “sell the audit as something it isn’t.” He was simply responding to the request of informed citizens in this community, who have endured decades of taxation and ever increasing fees with no adequate explanation as to how our money is being spent.
A proper audit also will show much more than what Mr. Tucker contends. It will reveal more than “whether the books are balanced, if employees who are getting paid exist and if the proper paperwork was filed.” Some of the largest and most worrisome issues with New Albany’s accounting deal with improper account reconciliations (sewer, sanitation), capital asset accounts, and cash and cash equivalents balances. And contrary to what the State Board of Accounts contends was their full audit, a proper, full investigative audit goes much further than exposing such deficiencies. It will answer those questions raised, as any audit should, and show the city’s residents just exactly why the accounts are out of balance, and where the monies went.
These results do not necessarily imply some potential sinister outcome as Mr. Tucker mentioned; embezzlement, areas of possible theft or cooking the books. It could be nothing criminal at all, but rather the results of poor accounting and financial controls, processes and/or management. Even such non-criminal deficiencies, though, can have a measurable, negative impact on the decision making processes in our city.
Start if you will with a strictly internal audit process. Given the local political infighting, more vicious perhaps because it is within a single party, we all doubt that it will get very far in providing the answers we demand. This will probably serve nothing more than to burn up more unproductive time until outside auditors ultimately are brought in.
The citizens of New Albany deserve a full investigative audit of how our money is being used. When informed of repeated, supposedly necessary sewer rate increases, or the immediate urgency to redesign the sanitation department, finances have frequently been presented with a great degree of certainty by board members and the mayor’s office. The audit by the State Board of Accounts, however, reflects that such certainty is truly unknown.
In closing, unlike Mr. Tucker contends, we too desire a better New Albany, and a bigger and brighter future. We welcome the opportunity to participate in the dialogue. Building a better New Albany will take some time, and like any construction, will only be as good as its foundation. The foundation of any city’s ability to grow and progress is its financial status, and without knowing the true financial health of our great little city, we are indeed building on a shaky foundation.