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West Memphis flagged for budget bungle in audit

West Memphis flagged for budget bungle in audit


West Memphis flagged for budget bungle in audit

City cited after deviating from prescribed guidelines

The West Memphis Budget Committee heard favorable results on their 2014 financial reports turned over by the State Legislative Audit, but while there was general agreement that it was a “good” audit for the city, City Treasurer Frank Martin warned the committee there would be some supplemental writeups for city business, as some moves by the city at the start of 2016 come up for review.

Budget Committee chairman, City Councilman Tracy Catt set the stage for the overview.

“We need to go ahead and approve our review of the audit from the State for 2014,” said Catt. “I want to make sure if they want something different, we can work on that. It was a good report, no doubt about that.”

City treasurer put the 2014 audit to bed and looked ahead to the next one.

“Our audit was fine, but will have two supplemental (findings),” said Martin.

The auditors questioned whether the budget had been properly installed for 2016. At the end of the year in 2015, the city was moving its employees to a biweekly pay schedule and finalizing a 3-percent across-the-board raise. At the same time, the city endured the resignation of its Human Resource manager who was tasked with compiling a wage survey just as the city council was considering benchmark raises for all municipal employees.

So, as the Dec. 31 deadline for adopting a city budget came and went, the city had not produced a budget for council to approve. Instead, a one-month stop-gap budget for January was passed, to include the modified payroll and pay the normal monthly bills, based on 1/12 of the previous year’s budget.

But that, according to the Legislative Audit, was too little, too late.

“It’s my fault,” said Martin. “We didn’t approve the budget by resolution or ordinance. We just brought it in from the budget committee and I knew better than that. We were doing a budget change at the same time. Everything was messed up. It shouldn’t have been. It was my fault.”

The late budget was the first issue the auditor saw for this year. Martin also told the committee about another one.

“We didn’t print the endof- year financials in the paper, and that is going to be another supplemental,” reported Martin.

Martin asked the auditor if publishing the financial results now would make up for the miss.

“She said no — it isn’t going to help any,” said Martin. “So, why would I spend the money now to print it?”

Martin learned of a procedural change from the new state auditor concerning next year, when it is time to publish the annual city financial results.

“For years, we went with a full page ad covering all the funds,” said Martin. “Then they told us all we have to do is print the street, utility and general funs. Now we have to go back to all the funds again.”

“That’s the problem you run into with the legislative audit, when they change auditors, they change the rules,” said Councilman Taz Tyrone.

By John Rech

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