Council member Valentine asks for independent audit; rest of council says no

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The depletion of the City of Wellington utility reserve fund has raised more than a few eyebrows (see story here), and councilman Jim Valentine’s motion for an independent audit may have raised a few more.Jim ValentineOn a night for which he was re-elected for another four years, Valentine during the council correspondence portion of Tuesday’s meeting made a formal motion:“I’ve got a lot of questions from people around town about the so called ‘lost money.’ So I’m going to ask for a motion for an outside audit of all expenses from 2011 to 2014 including 2012 and 2013. We need to to put this thing to bed.”The motion would eventually die from a lack of second. But before doing so, it still made for an interesting six-minute discussion.Wellington council member Vince Wetta asked Wellington City Clerk Shane Shields, if there was lost money, or was this a case of money being transferred from one account to the other.Shields said money transferred out of the utility fund was used for operating services as was outlined in the making of the 2014 budget. There was $600,000 transferred from the reserve fund for general operating expenses in one year. But there was no missing money, he said. “Every year the city has an audit contracted through an independent certified public accounting firm,” Shields said of Kenneth Cooper CPA Accounting Firm.“Well, you answered my question,” Wetta said.Shields said in years past, in order to maintain the mill levy at current status, the council was told reserves would have to be used in order to do so with no real explanation. Those funds were used for general operating expenses going to departments like fire and police.“I think there have been unfair innuendos leveled at the council when we made a conscious decision every year to determine whether or not to raise the mill levy,” said John Brand, Wellington Council member.Valentine then asked why Wellington Financial Advisor John Haas said in a work session a couple of weeks ago that $1.5 million was recorded as a loss, and when asked what happened to those funds, he said, ‘I don’t know.’Shields said it is not his job or responsibility of Haas to know where the money went. His job is to determine the city’s debt ratio coverage and the overall financial health of the city. He determined that the utility reserves fund is being diminished, but it is not up to him to know how that money is spent.Council member Jan Korte said she doesn’t believe there are any missing funds. Council member B.J. Tracy reiterated what Shields said that both the general and utility fund were audited annually and that is paid for by the city. There was no need for an independent audit.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (49) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +18 Vote up Vote down credence · 279 weeks ago I think what needs to be done going forward is a better explanation by the city as to how our money is being spent. Back approximately 12 – 15 years ago the “utility reserve” had a balance of over $13 million dollars and I think this is what Councilman Valentine is referring to in his request. If the funds were used to offset tax increases then I feel the citizens of Wellington should be told this is what it was used for so rumors or misunderstandings don’t become accusations. We, as the citizens and taxpayers, have a right to know where and how our money is being spent, whether from a “reserve account” or general outlays.. Report Reply 1 reply · active 279 weeks ago -23 Vote up Vote down Wheat · 279 weeks ago I question If Roy eckert has the experience to deal with this complex utility crisis. The Minutes on the city website seem to confirm eckert has been to 5 housing authority meetings that effects the lives of 100 residents but has been to 0 Health Care authority Meetings that effect the health care of at least 15,000 citizens, Report Reply 1 reply · active 279 weeks ago +13 Vote up Vote down craig · 279 weeks ago Then post the audits where *we* can see where it went and for what. Good job, Mr. Valentine. Keep digging. That is not “chump change” … we’re talking a boatload of cash – our cash. Either stay on budget or show us *above the table” where the errors are and where our cash has gone. Let us decide if it’s ok or not. Failure to 2nd the motion just smells more than a little weird. Report Reply 1 reply · active 279 weeks ago -22 Vote up Vote down Guest · 279 weeks ago I am not impressed with Roy Eckert, where did the city council get this guy? Report Reply 0 replies · active 279 weeks ago +8 Vote up Vote down guest · 279 weeks ago We were supposed to get a refund from Westar. Do we have it yet? Report Reply 0 replies · active 279 weeks ago +7 Vote up Vote down Guest · 279 weeks ago The people need to know where every penny, the city spends Report Reply 0 replies · active 279 weeks ago +22 Vote up Vote down CueballSumnernewscow 94p · 279 weeks ago Did anyone read my article I wrote a couple of weeks ago on this very subject? Judging from the comments, obviously not. Report Reply 0 replies · active 279 weeks ago +6 Vote up Vote down craig · 279 weeks ago Tracy, reading media reports does not an explanation make, despite cueball’s best intentions. Obviously, a lot of residents are not feeling okay with this amount of missing money and the lack of detail and transparency. The council’s terse responses and not wanting the books opened in a public – or investigative manner – is pretty su****ious. They brought this on themselves, sir. Report Reply 0 replies · active 279 weeks ago +10 Vote up Vote down casper · 279 weeks ago What is amazing about this is Valentine would have voted for or against any of these projects that would require money being moved. He calls for transparency but it is not like he is a new Comer to the council. Instead of calling for press conferences an audits how about we figure out as a whole what to do and the most economic way to do it. Also why not give the city manager a chance. He has even been here a year. Some of you are a little quick to judge.. Report Reply 0 replies · active 279 weeks ago +20 Vote up Vote down Reasonable Citizen · 279 weeks ago Tracy, they apparently did not read this one either. Your article clearly states that Mr. Shields advised where the money went, it was transferred to general fund to keep the city from raising the mill levy. The City already pays for an audit. Instead of throwing money for another audit, (which would likely be very expensive), the reasonable council members(and citizens) understand, there is no missing money or misappropriated money. City budgets are published and everything is above board, so get informed, but if you can not read a newscow article, its is doubtful you can read a budget or minutes from a meeting. Report Reply 1 reply · active 279 weeks ago 1234Next » Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. 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