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Panel divided on funds inquiry

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Kayla Bunge
February 5, 2010
— Alderwoman Mary Jo Fesenmaier thought the facts spoke loud enough to push the citys personnel committee to open an investigation into possible mismanagement of city funds.

I was just amazed, she said. I felt like the items that I presented were pretty solid


But the personnel committee on Tuesday was split, 2-2, on hiring an independent attorney to look into the alleged mismanagement. Council members Arleen Krohn and Penny Roehrer voted in favor of the idea. Council members Frank Marsala and Don Tolar voted against it.


The city council is expected to discuss the issue at its meeting Monday.


Fesenmaier, who is not a member of the committee, presented the following examples for consideration:


-- Spending money out of the undesignated reserve fund without a budget resolution approved by two-thirds of the city council in violation of state statute.


Fesenmaier said city staff in November received a copy of the procedures regarding such expenditures.


Its hard for me to believe this was an oversight, she said.


Fesenmaier dispelled recent rumors that allegations of mismanagement stemmed from the recent purchase of property from WE Energies as part of the Edwards Boulevard project, which is funded through tax incremental financing.


This is not about people trying to block the Edwards Boulevard extension, she said. Its about people following state statutes


-- Making purchases of more than $25 out of petty cash in violation of city policy.


Fesenmaier said city staff in December received a report on its internal controls written by an independent accounting firm to help improve financial operations.


The accountant said we need to watch and deal with our petty cash, she said. But it happened anyway. Its hard for me to believe this was an oversight


-- Paying for park benches out of park impact fees in violation of state statute.


Fesenmaier presented a copy of a staff memo that listed two places the money could come from. She showed that a staff member had recommended money come not from park impact fees but from another account.


Fesenmaier also noted the city cut a check to an individual, not the company that made the benches.


Im wondering why a check was not made out to (the company), she said. Its not appropriate.


-- Paying off the library credit card using prepaid checks, which usually are not approved by the finance committee or city council until after the bill has been paid.


Fesenmaier presented copies of credit cards bills paid from 2005-08. She showed that the only supporting documentation usually attached to the checks was a copy of the credit card bill stub.


I dont see how it can happen this many years and be an oversight, she said.


Marsala and Tolar suggested the committee ask the police department to investigate the matter. But Fesenmaier urged the committee to seek the help of an independent attorney in place of the city attorney or the police department to avoid a possible conflict of interest.



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