What Does The City Council Really Want From the Finance Dept.?
More select and incomplete reporting is not the answer
Mayor and Council,
I exchanged the e-mail that follows with Greg earlier today and discussed same at our A&B meeting earlier this evening in hopes of bridging the divide that exists regarding future expectations for the Finance department. That discussion did not end with anything close to a consensus and at this point I think Greg would agree that absent some clear policy direction from yourselves we are largely spinning our wheels at this point.
The pitfalls of disseminating select and incomplete financial data easily outweigh the value such information provides a few knowledge users, IF select and incomplete financial data coupled with a CAFR that is 6 months out of date when it is released, is all that is ever provided — as is the case in Port Orange.
I would rather see you and your Finance director release zero information until the drum beat of discontent becomes such that you are required to produce comprehensive interim financials with comparative numbers, RATHER THAN continue with a program of incomplete reporting that took us right through the millions that were lost in the water fiasco with Council and the public never receiving enough information to even realize anything was wrong.
You are new to this job and for the life of me I do not understand why you are resistant to moving to comprehensive financial reporting unless the resistance you are representing is that of a Finance staff that is incapable or unwilling to undertake the requisite work that would be required on an ongoing basis.
Last Tuesday morning you wrote advising that you “ agreed that we need to be comfortable with the dollars management has represented are in the assigned and unassigned reserves “ By Tuesday afternoon you advised that you had such an comfort level. While I do not know how you acquired that comfort I do know that it was not as a result of any account reconciliation that balanced anything with anything else, AND If I am mistaken please supply that reconciliation.
To my knowledge no such account reconciliations are either made or retained. My goodness your Finance department is unable advise what the $166,000 in charges to the YMCA R&R reserve during the period May 2007 through Sept 2008 were for, AND if those charges were related to the approximately $ 800,000 that was spent on the YMCA building in that time frame.
It is all well and good that you do not want to embarrass the mid level employee who made the $ 239,357 adjusting entry error. Neither do I but I sure as heck do not want to provide cover for your Comptroller and Finance director who darn well should have spotted a $239,357 error in a $435,832 reserve account that had grown from $196,475 to $435,832 in one year.
Several months ago you likened committee member requests to fishing expeditions, to which I would respond by advising that this latest months long request for what should have been a single page working paper on the YMCA reserve accounts felt like watching over and over the stolen vehicle inventory inspection request in the movie Fargo where the William H Macy character says ‘why would you want to check the inventory I just told you everything is OK’
We appear to be miles apart in our fundamental understanding of the direction Council is wanting Finance to follow. I would suggest we discuss this matter in a frank manner at our Monday meeting and if we cannot bridge this divide then we turn to Council for greater clarification.
From: Kisela, Greg [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2013 7:41 AM
To: City Council
Subject: FW: Preliminary Revenue and Expense Reports
Mayor and City Council: