Would you please state your position ??

Would you please state your position ??    December 29, 2013 5:27 PM
From:  “Dennis Kennedy” <DennisK@port-orange.org>
To:  “Ted Noftall” <ted@tednoftall.com> “Greg Kisela” <gkisela@port-orange.org>
I know that you want hard and fast answers to your questions, I wish that I could provide them.
To be honest I too am frustrated with the way that our process drags out, however this is nothing new and I still have hopes that we are on the road to improving our city and our process.   I really do believe that we are better today than we were two years ago. Yes we still have a ways to go, particularly with our controls.
As always you bring up good questions and I wish I had the answers but I do not nor am I ready at this time to speculate the final resolution.  I have found that by waiting to have more of the information I can do a better job of making a decision.
Sent from my iPad

On Dec 27, 2013, at 7:35 AM, “Ted Noftall” <Ted@TedNoftall.com> wrote:
Good morning Dennis,
The attached e-mails allege  fundamental  malfeasance and misfeasance and misdirection,   that if sustained should dictate the termination of one or more City employees.
I am frustrated by the misdirection of the Manager and his Finance director and the patty cake patty cake,  stall and dodge manner in which answers to financial inquiries are provided.    That pattern was evident in the YMCA reserves inquiries  which have never been answered comprehensively to this date,  AND again in the Fuel Tax returns where the Finance Director fraudulently played the ‘we are busy with the Auditor card.’   They were busy alright ….busy developing a convenient story to fit an after the fact  self serving fuel analysis  with which to schmooze or baffle Council as required.
These two inquiries selected in a most random fashion have revealed that Finance cannot be relied upon for accurate reporting and is still deficient in fundamental controls.  This is most disconcerting coming out of a year with high Auditor scrutiny which  if anything I would have expected to have been a huge inducement  to have done  more accurate work with greater attention to detail  and internal control, AND  that did not happen in the 2 accounts,   YMCA reserves and Fuel refund returns,   we have inquired about.
I am likewise frustrated with the nearly 2 year lack of meaningful  action  on the part of Council,  since the failed internal control disclosures arising from the  Public Works debacle were made plain for all to see.
What was equally plain to see in that debacle and in the others over the past year is  Council’s repeated willingness  to sanction placing  band-aids  on  wounds  that have not been properly cleansed.
NO MORE,   and in that regard I am calling on you to clearly state your bottom line positions and expectations  on the:

  • *)  automated fuel  tracking deceit which,  only after it is discovered  by a citizen activist,  we are told by the Manager is just not quite working as it is supposed to  —  no  big deal,  we will amend a few returns and all will be right as rain.

Sorry   it is a big deal because Council and the people were led to believe this problem had been resolved and it hasn’t been.  To add insult to injury the A&B Advisory Board was assured at its last meeting by the Public Works director that smart card fuel dispensing tracking system was in place right down to the jerry can.  The Manager and his Finance Director were in attendance at that meeting and did not object to that bold face deceit. They all knew or should have known,  that while that very statement was being  made Finance had been preparing monthly fuel rebate returns for the past year that contained fuel discrepancies in the thousands of gallons every month.

  • **)   Finance Director’s  admission 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”

He could have added that not knowing when they were prepared he indeed does not know if they were prepared, AND that he sure as heck had not  reviewed or approved any.
Neither was he able to advise with any certainty whatsoever as to when the actual fuel tax rebates were received throughout FY 2013  OR   why the recording of same only occurred  twice in FY 2013
These admissions  speak volumes about how transactions are being processed – or not,   AND  how Finance is being managed – or not.   The bottom line is that we are never going to have timely comprehensive financial reporting if we do not even have timely comprehensive bookkeeping.
The do-nothing Council dynamic must be changed – with the introduction of new blood in the next election if that is what it takes.  In that regard  I would like to know which councilmen are committed to resolving  known  deficiencies in Finance and elsewhere throughout the City,  and those who are part of the Mayor’s  ‘mission accomplished cadre’  just waiting to slap a happy face on  City operations and move on.
Your bottom line positions would be appreciated.
Ted Noftall

From: Ted Noftall [mailto:Ted@TedNoftall.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013 6:12 PM
To: ‘Kisela, Greg’
Subject: RE: Some Last minute Christmas Stocking Stuffers for Port Orange Taxpayers
I am likewise looking forward to listening to what I hope are ideas you have beyond maintaining the status quo in Finance.   I fear that we are miles apart in our expectations and believe that:
You are an optimist and I am a realist.
Where you see the glass half full,   I see it half empty.
Where you see high levels of Auditor scrutiny as an reason to excuse deficient performance  — I see it as a huge inducement to have done  more accurate work with greater attention to detail  and that did not happen in the 2 accounts,  YMCA reserves and Fuel refund returns,   we have inquired about.
Where you take  great pride in Finance staff’s development of the never ending color coded hand outs  to   “ develop a game plan to address  the auditor’s comments to ensure the City has the proper internal controls and policies in place” [italics mine ]   —   I see your Finance Director as unable to answer the most fundamental of questions regarding Finance department operations including when  bank reconciliations  were prepared last year ….. if indeed they were prepared at all. .
Your  17 of 28 turnover/replacement  analysis  proves that old adage of lies, dam lies and statistics …… Because by my count   6 of the 9 senior  2012/2013   cast of characters are  current holdovers being:  Culpepper,  Zurawski,  Cinefro, Gurnee, King, Pallante,  and if you trade a Saunders for a Shelly  that cast of core Finance employees remained intact with two exceptions, Wiggins and Woodman.
As  I have  advised  Council — I believe they are going to have to involve themselves and set clear policy direction in this and other areas of City operations.  I believe our meeting will settle that belief one way or the other.
I will call tomorrow and suggest some times for next week
Ted Noftall

—–Original Message—–
From: Kisela, Greg [mailto:gkisela@port-orange.org]
Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013 2:26 PM
To: Ted Noftall
Subject: RE: Some Last minute Christmas Stocking Stuffers for Port Orange Taxpayers
Ted: 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.