Wednesday, May 20, 2009

State Board of Accounts Skewers Westfield for Financial Irregularities

Previously I posted a blog entry discussing the Westfield Mayor Andy Cook's crazy idea to enter into a $1.5 billion public-private partnership to make Westfield the "Family Sports Capital of America." Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana was the first blogger to tackle the story.

Turns out we had good cause for concern regarding the financial management of the new city's finances. In a recently released Examination Report, the Indiana State Board of Account blasts Westfield for financial mismanagement and improper accounting practices.

Let's examine a section in the report under "Credit Cards":

The Town of Westfield is using credit cards to purchase items under an approved credit card policy; however, payments were made in 2007 that were not in compliance with that policy. Payments were made using the Town's credit card to pay for the tuition expense of Towns employees. This is not authorized by the credit card policy.

For monthly payments made in 2007, it was noted that charges were paid based on credit card statement alone without sufficient itemized documentation of expenses.

No longs were provided for audit to document who had authorization to use the credit cards, when they were issued or returned.

There were charges on the credit card statement that appeared to bypass the accounting system.
Under the section "Finance Charges," the State Board of Accounts reports:

The Town incurred, and subsequently paid, late fees and financial charges of delinquent payment of vendor invoices to Keybank for credit card payments in the amount of $1,184.73 during 2007.
Under the section "Condition of Records," the State Board of Accounts noted:
Financial records presented for examination were incomplete and not reflective of the activity of the Payroll Fund. The records presented did not provide sufficient information to examine or establish beginning balances and ending balances, or the accuracy of the transactions for the year. No subsidiary ledger of individual withholding accounts was maintained to allow the tracking of payroll withholdings by withholding type. The Payroll Fund had a balance of $313,135.13 at December 31,
2007; however, the unit cannot identify the source of this Payroll Fund balance.

In response to the report, the City stated "the Clerk Treasurer's office was unaware that such issues occurred or existed and will work to eliminate all issues." The City went on to state that "[w]ith the tremendous growth that the City has experienced, the Clerk Treasurer's Office has not been able to properly monitor each department submissions..."

Considering how Westfield has mishandled its limited budget, one wonders how they will handle the proposed $1.5 billion family sports venture Mayor Andy Cook wants for the city.

Thanks to blogger extraordinaire Diana Vice of "Welcome to My Teaparty" for sending me the Westfield report.

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