With audit finished, time to renew trust in city
March 16, 2005 - To the editor:
I really hoped that this letter would not be needed, but since the Crestwood aldermen who represent Mr. Roger Anderson have not answered the questions in his letter published in the Feb. 24 issue of the Call, I will.
Mr. Anderson's letter asks: "Did the city (Crestwood) administration further waste our money by plowing office expenses and legal fees into the cost of the audit claiming they're in conjunction with the state audit, then blaming the inflated cost on others? Why so much legal coaching about the state audit? Why were expensive law-yers needed simply to tell the truth?"
As I understand Mr. Anderson's first question, he is asking did the city place cost of the forensic audit as well as staff expenses unnecessarily toward the state audit cost? The short answer is, Mr. Anderson, no. After asking a few simple questions, I found the following information to support my answer:
• Forensic audit started Aug. 2, 2003, was finished and presented to the aldermen Oct. 14, 2003.
• State audit started Jan, 29, 2004
• Forensic audit completely paid for by the city of Crestwood April 8, 2004.
• State audit presented to city March 10, 2005 along with the first and only bill for their services.
Clearly all city expenses pertaining to the state audit activities and requests are fully documented as they were necessary to the performance of the audit by the state. Without the records, the state audit could not have been accomplished as required by the state auditors.
Mr. Anderson's second question about "the expensive lawyer's fees": Neither I nor my wife or any of my four children are lawyers, so I don't know what is expensive or cheap legal advice, but I can tell you that our attorneys charged the city $4,733 during the state audit. What is interesting is their charges were not for legal advice given to the city, but, are you ready for this, the charges were for work performed providing the information the State Auditor's Office solicited from them.
On top of that, our accountants, the same company that performed the forensic audit, charged the city approximately $2,300 for its time spent answering the state auditor's questions about our forensic audit.
Let me go further and explain why Mr. Anderson needs answering. In the March 10 Call, a Ms. Duchild writes in support of Mr. Anderson stating in part, "This city desperately needs to earn the trust of its residents with a clean state audit." She is 100 percent correct. But for the life of me I don't understand why the forensic audit doesn't carry as much weight with her and others as does the state audit.
The city is paying for both audits, so it couldn't be the "can't-trust-an-audit-you-paid-for" myth. After all, the state used the forensic audit and our accountants to perform a part of its audit. We should hope, as Ms. Duchild does, that when the "objective" state audit is over that "no matter what the result, the benefits far outweigh the costs."
My other hope is that with the state audit now finished and presented that she and others who share her views, would remember her words, and will now start working to renew their trust in their city.
Crestwood Ward 2 alderman