For the past several years, at least, there has been emerging issues that would seem to have clearly justified previous calls for a forensic audit to be done by the city of Alice with an external auditor. Not just for the multi-use complex project, but also, for an array of general fund and special fund activities and decisions going back approximately the last eight years at a minimum.
Just in the most recent few weeks new details have been revealed that raise even more critical questions and concerns regarding the the accuracy and accountability of the fiscal affairs of our municipality.
Previous attempts to initiate a overall financial forensic examination of the city accounts met with resistance and persistent delays attributed to cost, administrative and other personnel changes,and other management related transitions. However, there is increasing evidence that a simply expanded scope of a regularly scheduled annual audit seemingly provided insufficient information and protection of the financial process from error and irregularities.
There is strong indications that city finances should have undergone a much more extensive and comprehensive review and verification of such accounting procedures as journal entries, internal controls, general ledger activity, and account transfers.
Any faulty or undocumented activities could be broken down by policies and procedures involved with the entire critical reconciliation process that should consistently occur.
What is also especially worthy of investigation is any potential cases where financial or other city administration officials over the years failed to disclose to a city council and taxpayers important financial information that has seriously impacted major decisions and projects. There has been a consistent failure to document or quantify how and why excessive spending expenditures exceeding available revenue have went unchallenged for such a prolonged period of time during the watch of several previous councils and mayors...and why. Much more information should be established about the relationship of the substantial costs of several projects and programs contributing greatly to the current financial crisis and going unchecked during the duration of past council tenures.
Any significant financial system or reporting deficiency or failure raises legitimate questions about the overall validity of the entire budget process, and, to what extent periodic revisions will be necessary and warranted due to faulty calculations, including projections.
One of the most fundamental obligations of the city council as a governing body through its administrative and finance officers is to provide due diligence with financial reporting systems and to insure the fiscal integrity of the city's government operations. This responsibility and commitment cannot be overstated.The taxpayers and community need this confidence.
Our future direction requires it.