Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Questionable spending by administration uncovered by Council

Plainfield's City Council is finally getting details on monthly payments made by the City, and at first blush, the Robinson-Briggs administration appears to be caught in a questionable expenditure.

After Council President Annie McWilliams noted with pleasure that the administration had complied with the Council's request for detailed information on monthly expenditures, she asked if there were any comments.

Councilor Mapp noted that while he hadn't had time to pore over the documents more closely (did I hear him say there were 50+ pages?), he did spot one expenditure which raised a red flag immediately.

According to Mapp, a check in the amount of $2,500 had been issued to WBLS 'around July 27' from the CAPITAL EXPENSES ACCOUNT.

Mapp pointed out that municipalities are constrained to set up separate capital expenses accounts and that only items that qualify can be paid against these funds. That would be expenses associated with capital projects (such as construction) or certain purchases with long-term life expectancies (such as fire trucks).

On its face, this expenditure (related to the Mayor's Town Hall meeting at Washington Community School on August 1?) appeared to be improper for this account. Not only that, the check was cut in advance of the 'service' provided.

Though acting CFO Sandra Cummings came to the table to explain the payment, I was not able to infer a direct answer to Councilor Mapp's question from anything she said.

It would be interesting to see the requisition for this item (which would show who requested the payment to made, the reason for the payment, and the ACCOUNT FROM WHICH PAYMENT WAS TO BE MADE) as well as the backup documentation.

We shall see where this goes.
To my mind, this incident only confirms the need for the state to take the reins here and appoint someone for the CFO position -- even if only to persuade a retired CFO to take on the assignment for a limited period, say a year.

Who knows what other questionable items will come to light now that the Council finally is getting a peek at payments?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Dan, the $2500 was not for the town hall meeting. the town hall meeting was $20,000. Adrian and Annie need to look at checks drawn on the IT account at the end of July

Anonymous said...

How could a meeting cost $20,000????

Anonymous said...

Is Sandra Cummmings actually a CFO. I thought she could not pass the necessary test to be Certified, yet she has been the Acting CFO and Asst. Comptroller for a number of years.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there supposed to be a proposal to appoint a director of administration & finance? What happened to that?

Anonymous said...

Dan, what is going on on the solar panel from UCIA? I heard they are 15% more expensive then if we bought them ourselves. This 15% will line the county's pockets. I hope the council wakes up and stops this.

Dan said...

To All --

Meeting Cost: I am told the $20,000 was for WBLS, their fee for coming out

Sandy's certification: i don't know, what wo do know is the state wants a CMFO in place.

Director of Admin/Finance -- the person who applied has withdrawn their appliction, the Council resolution was to encourage the mayor to get someone...

Solar Panels -- check tomorrow's post

Anonymous said...

Why did we pay $20,000 for WBLS and the Rev Al to come to Plainfield? Is the only way to get FREE? COMMUNITY SERVICE HELP from the Rev Al and WBLS is to pay them to come here? How about spending the money on the people we laid off becouse we did not have enough to meet the payroll? The Mayor always seems to find money to spend on things and projects she wants!!

Rob said...

So...if in fact there was a check written to WBLS for them coming out...our Mayor, in effect, PAID for bad publicity...
I think someone needs to tell her that the old phrase,"No such thing as bad publicity", applies only to hot mess movie and music stars...NOT hot mess Mayors.

Anonymous said...

Oh come now...where there is smoke, there is fire. Would love it if Christie would send in the auditors. Does anyone know how we could make this humble request known? Someone at the state level must have oversight responsibility. Dan can you research this? This is not the first glimpse of sloppy bookkeeping we have seen from this administration. Is the catering account up to snuff?

Anonymous said...

All the more reason Sharon does not want to hire a legit CFO. They are able to hide these things now. A CFO will find them all and bring them to light. Just another reason why she needs to go.