Local Government and Politics, News

Revere: state auditor will not undertake audit of Revere’s finances as suggested by city councilors

REVERE — State auditor Suzanne M. Bump determined she does not need to complete an audit of the city’s finances, as was suggested by Revere City Council in August.

“The audits already performed seemed to do an excellent job of evaluating current operational conditions and making recommendations aimed at improving controls over city operations,” Bump wrote in a letter to Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo dated Oct. 28.

An audit commissioned by Arrigo in March 2016 sought to review all city departments and financial accounts and operation policies and procedures.  It was reviewed by Bump’s office.

CliftonLarsonAllen, an audit, tax and consulting firm, reviewed various activities and internal controls of city departments. More than $2 million was uncovered sitting in dormant municipal accounts dating back nearly 20 years.

“That was a pleasant surprise,” said Arrigo. “And we found it because we took the initiative to conduct the audit.”

Following the audit, Arrigo said he ordered an independent audit of the Parking Department, which found that only 145 of the city’s 274 parking meters were operational and a significant decrease in revenue.

Parking revenue exceeded $100,000 from 2002 to 2011 and reached more than $140,000 in 2010 and 2011 but began to decline in 2012. Parking meter revenue was down to $0 in the 10 months that preceded the audit, said Arrigo.

The review found about $90,000 in revenue unaccounted for within the department within four years. That led to two workers being placed on unpaid leave while the matter is investigated.

“Since July, when we began to implement practices recommended in the parking audit, parking meter revenues are nearly $27,000, which indicates a substantial revenue increase over entire recent years,” said Arrigo. “We anticipate even greater revenues when new parking meters are installed very shortly.”

CliftonLarsonAllen reviewed all active funds reported on the MUNIS accounting system and detailed descriptions of the purpose of the funds, revenue sources, and expenditure types expended from the funds over the past two years. It was determined whether each fund was created and in compliance with Massachusetts General Law.

The Department of Community Development and its management, accounting and reporting of federal grants was reviewed, and transactions and relationships the department has with non-profit organizations were identified and reviewed.

The firm reviewed the city’s compliance with the state’s uniform procurement act, the stipends paid to city employees or officials, and the city’s cash receipt policies and procedures.

In addition to the money that will be returned to the city, the firm recommended the city create a standardized, comprehensive cash receipts policy and procedure manual. The manual would include information specific to each department and employees would be trained about the updated policies and procedures to promote consistent application.

It was also recommended that the city’s auditor send interim general ledger reports of revenues to all departments for review, review safeguarding procedures for handling cash, consider allowing credit card payments for activities that don’t already allow for it, review policies and procedures for reimbursing petty cash and implement new solutions to enhance timeliness of reimbursements, and recommend the treasurer and collector’s office record all cash receipts using the MUNIS cash receipt module.

City Council considered a motion in August that the state auditor conduct a “top to bottom review of each department in City Hall for the period of 2014 to 2018.” The motion was tempered to request the auditor provide only a cost estimate of such audit. Bump questioned the breadth of the request, calling it “too broad” to estimate a cost, but even if an estimate could be provided “it is unlikely that (her) office would be able to accommodate a request to undertake any desired audit work (themselves).”

“I am glad, but I am not surprised,” said Arrigo. “One of my first objectives when I took office was to obtain an independent and comprehensive assessment of the city’s financial conditions and procedures. We did that, and we are taking recommended steps to tighten procedures, streamline and simplify the public’s interaction with the city, and maintain a clear scrutiny of all the city’s finances. This is an ongoing practice and my idea of what good government is all about.”

Arrigo said he plans to continue to request audits as needed.

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