October 13, 2013

Audit: City needs more disclosure

Mayor says redactions necessary to protect projects

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — An audit of the city of Logansport prepared by the Indiana State Board of Accounts advises more internal controls for financial reporting and more disclosure in its transactions with consultants, while the mayor says state laws protect his lack of doing so in order to protect projects his administration is undertaking.

The city is currently under contract with William-Lynn-James, an Indianapolis firm providing professional services to the city, including those pertaining to a projected $500 million power plant project that would run on refuse-derived fuel.

The audit states nine claims totaling $56,299 were paid to William-Lynn-James in 2012, five of which either had no supporting documentation attached to claims or had portions of attached invoices that were blacked out.

The audit declares similar discoveries between the city and the firm in 2013, in which a total of $883,183 was paid. More than $20,000 of this went to hotels, meals, parking, airfare and other professional services without supporting documentation, the audit states.

“In many instances, the invoices did not specify for whom meals or hotel rooms were purchased,” the audit states.

Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin said in an interview that while the state board of accounts advises this should be disclosed, the part of Indiana Code pertaining to access to public records protects the redactions.

“Who we visited with could blow the cover of a deal,” Franklin said of excluding the identities of those for whom meals and hotel rooms were purchased.

The city is also under a professional services contract with Carmel-based Ingraham and Associates Inc. The audit states in 2012, $1,495 was paid to the company without supporting documentation and claims for additional services totaling $7,700 were paid in 2013 with no breakdown of hours worked.

The audit goes on to state the city needs more internal controls pertaining to financial transactions and reporting, particularly regarding the federal grants the city receives.

Logansport Clerk-Treasurer Carol Sue Hayworth has drafted a corrective-action plan that implements this suggestion.

“They were very helpful to us,” Hayworth said of the state board of accounts.

She said the audit’s guidance can be accomplished by having “more eyes on extra things” to ensure departments that stand to benefit from grants supply all necessary documents ensuring compliance with grant requirements to her office as quickly as possible.

The 2014 budget recently adopted by Logansport City Council allocates funds for a new deputy for the clerk-treasurer’s office, whom Hayworth said will take on many of the city’s grant-processing duties. This will further help to ensure the state board of accounts’ suggestions are accomplished, she said.

The audit also states the city’s reconciled bank balance exceeded its recorded balance by $587 due to posting errors and that delinquent wastewater fees and penalties had not been recorded with the Cass County recorder.

The end of the audit states while material weaknesses were identified, significant deficiencies were not, although it concludes the city is not qualified as a low-risk auditee.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or Follow him: @PharosMAK