Robert L. McCarty, the city auditor, gave mid-summer 2013 as the rough date when a long-sought-after audit of the Recreation and Parks Department would be completed.
The agency has not been audited for at least 25 years, said Councilman Carl Stokes, who chaired a working session of the Council’s taxation, finance and economic development committee, which heard from McCarty today.
Efforts to audit Rec and Parks got underway last spring, but have been stymied by the absence of “auditable” records – such as balance sheets, payables and receivables – according to McCarty.
At the request of Stokes and Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector, the Department of Finance provided those records two weeks ago. They are now under review for completeness by McCarty’s office.
If there is enough data – and McCarty told The Brew after the meeting that the records “appear okay” – the audit will begin.
Pratt: More Auditors Needed
City Comptroller Joan Pratt, who oversees McCarty’s office, confirmed that she has enough money to perform the parks audit. But she warned that her office will not be able to fulfill its charter requirement to audit other agencies without supplemental funds.
Last November, voters approved an amendment to the city charter calling for 13 agencies, including police, fire, public works and housing, to be audited every fourth year beginning in 2014.
“We need financial resources,” Pratt said. “We won’t do anything until [there is] more funding.” The comptroller’s office is planning to seek a supplemental appropriation of about $700,00 this year, and will request $2.2 million in fiscal 2014 to hire 28 new auditors and supporting staff.
Mayor’s Office: Cool to Audits
Such funds would require the approval of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who has opposed efforts to vigorously audit city agencies.
Her reluctance was signaled today when Henry J. Raymond, deputy director of finance, told the committee he wanted to go on record that all supplemental funding “should go through the budgetary process” that is controlled by the mayor.
Last summer, the mayor’s lobbyists engineered the defeat of a Stokes-introduced bill that would require yearly audits of all city departments and boards. After much controversy, a watered-down bill was passed by the Council and then overwhelmingly approved by city voters.
Councilwoman Spector said she hoped the Rec and Parks audit would set a pattern for future audits.
Several participants said the audits should not only pay for themselves, but save taxpayers millions of dollars by pinpointing waste in city government.