"What if's for Christmas" … Ho Ho Ho

Ted Noftall
Dec 24
to Hank, Patrick, Greg
Ho Ho Ho Hank and Pat,
This is a magical time of year, And while I have little expectation that the problems in Finance are going to be solved without a major change in personnel starting with 2 members on Council up for re-election, AND extending down to include the Mayor’s manager and his finance director, comptroller and several staff accountants, MAYBE JUST MAYBE some what if’s are in order as last minute stocking stuffers.

  • What if Council viewed the latest deceit regarding fuel dispensing tracking seriously.
  • What if Council was alarmed with the latest revelations by the Finance director that while bank reconciliations are supposed to be done each month he has not had time to review when they were actually completed last year. What if they were not completed at all.
  • What if Council came to believe that the employees in Port Orange Finance are not hapless adorable children putting on a Christmas play, for whom we overlook all their little faux pas.
  • What if Council stopped excusing, and started demanding quality performance from their currently underperforming Finance department.
  • What if Council insisted that Finance staff be treated as adults doing adult jobs for which they are paid very well, and that their performance needed to be judged on that basis and only that basis,
  • What if Council deemed that any who are lazy or incompetent, or those with egos and psyches requiring ongoing therapy and pizza parties be fired.
  • What if Council insisted failing Finance employees ; not be retrained as Port Orange taxpayers should not be providing on the job training at $80.000 per year, Nor be reassigned as there is no advantage to taxpayers to be exporting problem people to other departments — just plain old fired !
  • What if Council told Finance they never wanted to ever again hear their perpetual whiney excuse that they are unable to perform any better than they do because of the big bad Auditors and what they really need is a lot more love and affection, understanding and pizza.
  • What if Council actually started doing their jobs they were elected to do which is to supervise the Manager and Attorney who must report to the Mayor because they sure do not report to Council.

You know a lot of Port Orange residents earning this area’s non government average annual compensation of $25,000 and below, will go to bed tonight with real money worries for themselves and their families. Is it really unreasonable to expect that Port Orange Finance employees, who themselves on average earn 3 times that private sector average, be expected to perform in a competent manner on a timely basis, and in cheerful demeanor.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night
Ted Noftall

From: Ted Noftall [mailto:Ted@TedNoftall.com]
Sent: Monday, December 23, 2013 6:58 PM
To: Bob Ford (rford37@cfl.rr.com); Dennis Kennedy (dkennedy@port-orange.org); don@amlsfl.com; Drew Bastian (db2070@cfl.rr.com); Mayor Green (agreen@port-orange.org)
Cc: ‘Kisela, Greg’
Subject: Finance needs to be declared a Disaster Zone
Well Mayor and Council,
Another embarrassing error, and another analysis purporting to show that everything is all well on the Finance plantation. Well all is not well, and this analysis as with the YMCA reserve analysis has not been vetted by anyone other than those responsible for the errors in the first place.
This multiyear analysis is so amazing that it takes us right through the fuel theft allegations that started the Warren Pike firing process in the first place without so much as footnote, AND through records so sloppy and so spread sheet shopped that the Police said they could not proceed with charges in that instance.
You can’t have it both ways. Either the fuel purchase and dispensing records were bullet proof in 2011 and 2012 and the Police did not know what they were doing, OR they were a spread sheet nightmare then and this analysis is a happy face production now.
The whole purpose of the smart card dispensing system was to eliminate the need for exactly this sort of analysis where the numbers can be made to total anything you desire — as was the case with a certain public works vehicles that was getting anywhere between 3 and about 300 miles to the gallon depending on how those numbers were applied or misapplied.
The first tragedy here is that nothing of substance has really changed in Finance. As late as Dec 9th the A&B advisory board was assured that the smart card dispensing system was working right down to the jerry can. Imagine my surprise to discover on Dec 12th with the release of 4 fuel tax refund returns that Finance has been processing these refund returns with calculation errors and reported gallon shortages in the thousands each and every month without ever asking why or bringing it to anyone’s attention.
As with the YMCA reserve errors, the pattern at Finance was the same with the fuel refund errors. STALL with the perennial we are overworked excuse, and refuse to disclose anything further until an analysis and an explanation could be concocted. In this instance it took Finance 10 days to release fuel tax refund returns for the first 9 months of FY 2013 — 10 days for something that should have taken 10 minutes. WHY WAS THAT EXACTLY ??
The 2nd tragedy is that it has taken 2 weeks to produce a couple of fuel rebate returns. Nothing has been answered regarding the critical inner workings of Finance as asked in my e-mail of Dec 17th AND the possible implications of the Finance Director’s Dec 18th comments are mind-numbing in a $65 million dollar annual operation which is what the City of Port Orange is.
None of this is acceptable to me as a taxpayer and neither should it be to you as the elected representatives of Port Orange taxpayer.
Nothing less than comprehensive financial reporting on an interim basis should be acceptable, and for that to occur comprehensive bookkeeping would need to be done on a monthly basis throughout the year, AND that would require a major change in the focus of that department, AS EVIDENCED by the fact that it is now nearly 3 months after the fiscal year end and to my knowledge Finance has not even completed an adjusted trial balance for September 30th
Where do you suggest we go from here Mayor and Council ??
If you opt for more unlicensed therapy and another round of pizza parties for Finance, instead of the needed change we thought we were going to get with Mr. Kisela would you also apply for federal disaster aid and ensure a supply of hard hats are on hand for all those entering that department.
Ted Noftall

One thought on “"What if's for Christmas" … Ho Ho Ho

  • December 26, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    First of all while I agree with your right to your opinions I do not agree with your opinions on the Finance Department. Are they perfect? No. Have they made mistakes? Yes. Would it surprise you to know that almost two-thirds (2/3rds) of the personnel in the Finance Department weren’t with the City this time last year? That is 55% of the Finance area staff, 50% of the Purchasing Division and 69% of the Customer Service function. The City has recruited and filled over 17 of the 28 positions in the Finance Department in the last twelve (12) months. If you recall because of the utility billing issues in the last quarter of 2012 the City didn’t close FY 2012 until the end of March. In the second calendar quarter Finance supported three (3) separate audits/reviews (external, forensic and payroll). In the third calendar quarter they developed a game plan to the auditor’s comments to ensure the City had the proper internal controls and policies in place. All of this activity was being done as they performed their “normal” duties.
    At this point and now that we are fully staffed I am comfortable that the Finance Department is moving in the right direction. I believe with a normal year that they can achieve the goal of reporting on the City’s finances in a more timely fashion. I am looking forward to our meeting next week so that we can develop an approach that will enhance the newly created Audit and Budget Board’s performance.
    Greg Kisela
    City Manager


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