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Editorial:Floresville council gets ‘no confidence’ vote
The Wilson County News reported on May 23 (“Council gives Joslin directives”), “The mayor alleged that scrutiny over the city’s 2012 fiscal year budget by citizens such as Floresville businessman Jim Miller prevented the city from completing its previous year’s audit sooner.”
On Dec. 23, 2011, the mayor stated in a letter sent to all residents that historical entries in the 2011-12 budget were reported incorrectly due to a “software glitch.”
In the same May 23 article, the mayor is quoted as saying, “We had to get with our current auditor, the previous auditor, our comptroller, and the district attorney, and that’s costly to the taxpayers of Floresville. It’s estimated that this has cost over $100,000 based on false allegations.”
At the May 31 special Floresville City Council meeting, the 2010-11 annual audit was presented to the mayor and city council by Patricia Wagner of Holtman, Wagner and Company, LLP, the city’s new auditor. Although Councilman John Guerrero motioned to table the approval of the audit until such time as he could completely review it -- the audit report is dated May 4, 2012, but was not provided to the council until just before this special meeting -- a sentiment echoed by many of the citizens during citizens’ input, the motion failed for lack of a second and was then approved by councilmen Gomez, Castillo, and Flores.
What did this audit report say? Why was it necessary to approve it so quickly without review? This report should sound an alarm to our city officials and to the taxpayers of our city.
First of all, the auditor reports that the delay in providing this audit was entirely due to the city needing additional time to “properly” close its books. The report goes on to state that had the city been ready to be audited in December 2011, as planned, that there would have been no delay in this audit report.
This report identifies a number of “material weaknesses” and “significant deficiencies” in the “City’s Internal Control Over Financial Reporting.” Some of the findings included in this report include:
•“The City did not establish separate funds for Street Maintenance Tax ... as required by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). In addition, the Debt Service Fund and the Capital Projects Fund were not being correctly used ... There is a fundamental misunderstanding of how a fund structure works in governmental accounting.”
•“During the year, bank accounts were not reconciled. The reconciliation process and Encode (software) were not understood by City staff. The City hired a contract accountant to prepare the reconciliations which were completed in January 2012.”
•“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the City’s chart of accounts is designed and how transactions should be recorded within that structure.”
•“The Encode software provides many tools to assist ..., but staff is not trained to know how to access those sub-ledgers and reconcile to the general ledger. Subsequent to year-end the contract accountant reconciled the accounts.”
The most alarming statement made by the auditor was: “City management and those charged with governance should monitor the city’s financial position and how actual operations are comparing to the budget. Because the city did not have the fund structure in place, and because accounts were not routinely reconciled, this process did not occur in an effective manner.”
We now know the real truth. It was not a software glitch, but rather staff that were not trained and did not have the fundamental understanding of governmental fund structure or chart of accounts. It was that lack of fundamental understanding that was the cause of nearly $5.2 million in adjustments to the historical numbers.
It was a “contract accountant” that was hired to “properly” close the city’s books for the previous fiscal year. Is this the $100,000 that “false allegations” have caused the city to spend?
It was because citizens, business owners, and taxpayers were attempting to monitor the city’s financial position and asked questions about the budget and the finances that these “material weaknesses” and “significant deficiencies” have been identified. The mayor continues to blame citizens for asking questions and calls them “false accusations.”
I would remind the mayor that had no questions been asked, it would be business as usual in the city of Floresville, and at what cost? The real question that we have to ask now is: Are our city officials and staff competent to manage the finances of our city?
Jim Miller is a business owner and registered voter in the city of Floresville.
Your Opinions and Comments
Connect the Dots
June 6, 2012 3:45pm
Publius Valerius Publicola
June 6, 2012 3:14pm
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Dry Tank, TX
June 6, 2012 2:31pm
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