Did Politics play a Part in Auditor NOT Auditing?
If you follow these bread crumbs, you have to wonder if the City Council played politics and chose to ignore Councilor Elliot’s wish for an Audit last year.
When he asked first in Sept.it was “referred to the Auditor” Then in November AFTER the election, they sent the Auditor’s report to the Finance Sub-Committee which apparently failed to meet or act in December or in January when it came back stacked with the Pro- Manager Councilors.
Was this done as a slap against Councilor Elliot? Was it done to show support of the Manager/Auditor?
In hindsight, the question is at least worth discussing.
1) Concerned about the theft in the Clerk’s office and wanting to ensure processes were in place to limit the possibility Councilor Elliot filed this motion on September 27 2011
BY C. ELLIOIT, seconded by C. Mercier
“Request the City Auditor direct independent auditor firm to audit all departments that accept cash”. In Council, Read and referred to the City Auditor. So Voted.
2) It took the Auditor 7 weeks to respond and it wasn’t addressed again until the November 22nd Council meeting and at that time her response (see pdf. Attached) included (Bold Mine)
I will be more than happy to proceed with this if this is what the Council desires, but considering that our new policy is to have each department turn over revenue immediately to the Treasurer’s office when the Department has collected $250 in cash or $500 in checks, those amounts alone are our exposure. I question the cost verses the return for such a contract. I should think the new procedures should be enough to limit our risk……Powers and Sullivan already review milk and lunch completely and one of the Student Activity Accounts, so if we have them do for example the other Student Activities Account and the entire Parking operation one year, we will have covered over 75% of any “cash” received in that year.
3) In His Cover Letter to the Council (because this was addressed under Manager’s Response to Council Motions) the City Manager in part stated:
New procedures have been implemented to address any exposure. In addition, the Auditor reviews all Department and quarterly reports on a regular basis.. Currently, Powers and Sullivan conduct a review of the Milk, Lunch and Student Activities Account and the Parking Operation.
Wait a second here he states in a letter on Nov. 18th for the 22nd meeting that Powers and Sullivan ALREADY conduct quarterly reviews yet the Auditors letter dated Nov. 17th says
“so if we have them do for example the other Student Activities Account and the entire Parking operation one year, we will have covered over 75% of any “cash” received in that year.
So which is it? Do they or don’t they? Do they do the Milk, Lunch and Student Activities Account and the Parking Operation yearly?
Apparently they don’t do it quarterly because if my math is correct December would have ended a quarter and March would have ended a quarter (based on the Fiscal year starting July 1) so why wasn’t the fact that the Parking Dept. and Supervising were not matching the ‘Software’ readouts from the Kiosk discovered then if we had in fact been already doing it has the Manager stated? or started doing it has the Auditor suggested?
Was the whole thing ignored because of the Councilor who asked for it?
4) Anyway back to the Council meeting the minutes reflect that instead of going with the requested audit suggested by Councilor Elliot, the members sent it to the Finance Sub- Committee and placed on file:
Councilors’ then discussed the communication from the City Auditor regarding having an audit performed on the departments that accept cash. Motion to send report from the City Auditor regarding having a 3rd party come in and do an audit on the departments that receive cash to the Finance Sub/ Committee by C. Mendonca, seconded by C. Broderick. Motion by C. Mercier. seconded by C. Martin. to accept the communication and place it on file. So Voted .
This meeting was held after a grueling election where Councilor Elliot campaigned by saying he was the ONLY councilor who voted to not raise taxes and campaigned as the anti-Manager candidate and scored a high finished with a low turnout.
Had any of the Councilors including Elliot picked up the discrepancy between the Manager and the Auditor regarding Powers and Sullivan and asked it to be explained or clarified or if the Finance
subcommittee had met in December and acted on this motion then maybe the theft would have been discovered sooner. What happened in January? Did that subcommittee address this issue at all?
I have to wonder if the Councilors had reached a point where they were so unhappy with Councilor Elliot and his campaign style that they just would not support or listen to him any longer and because of the politics of the time they just sent the Audit request to die in committee and the city ended up suffering a theft.
A Couple of observations from last nights meeting:
1) Councilor Elliot was level headed and did not grandstand and is correct in reminding the Auditor she should report to them not the Manager.
2) IF the Kiosk contain a ‘Vault” that this employee was NOT supposed to have a key for, how and why did he have one? If he didn’t have one, how could he get at the cash? Is the money actually from the coin operated meters?
3) How can the Auditor state that “$250 in cash or $500 in checks, those amounts alone are our exposure according to the new processes put in place and yet an employee was able to steal almost $40,000.
4) What will be put in place to ensure that the Parking Supervisor or his designee isn’t the only people seeing this software printout?
5) The Mayor isn’t going to be happy the Council in his absence created a sub-committee he had wiped out
6) In case you are wondering the Council Rules allow that committee to be formed
RULE 37 (Bold again mine)
The City Council shall have such committees as may be established from time to time by the Mayor or a majority of the members. All members shall be notified by the City Clerk of any meeting to be held by a Committee of which they are or are not members.
The creation of the sub-committee doesn’t guarantee that Councilor Elliot, Kennedy or Mercier will get appointed to it.