Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Monday, September 23, 2013

Those pesky audit findings

Still seeking 'just and capable'...
Plainfield's audit report for CY2012 began circulating last week. This year's audit, prepared for the city by the firm of Supplee, Clooney, came in at 141 pages, the half dozen or so of which are comments noting deficiencies in the manner in which the city's fiscal records and duties are executed.

Today, let's look at the comments on the Tax Collector's office. Those who have been following the (mis)adventures of the Robinson-Briggs administration will know that the Tax Collector left abruptly early this year, and was replaced with the new and current Tax Collector, David Marshall. None of the findings concerning CY2012 reflect on Marshall's performance as he was not an employee of the city at the time.

However, the findings do reflect on the tenure of the previous tax collector, and here they are --
  • The monthly tax collector's reports were not filed with the finance office on a timely basis.

  • A detailed analysis of redemptions of outside liens at year end was not available.

  • Third party lien redemptions were not remitted to the outside lienholders in a timely manner.

  • Tax receipts are not deposited within 48 hours of receipt.

  • The detailed billing per the computer system maintained by the tax office was not reconciled with the actual tax requirements.

  • The tax collector had inadequate bond coverage for the year 2012
Besides pointing to deficiencies in the Tax Collector's operations, the findings suggest that the lack of a permanent CFO (chief financial officer) directly impinges on the quality of Plainfield's fiscal processes, top to bottom.

You will note the perennial complaint that monies were not deposited in a timely fashion. But perhaps more importantly, at least as a management tool, that required monthly tax collector's reports were not filed in a timely manner. This would have been a red flag to a CFO.

The Tax Collector also fell down in keeping track of tax lien redemptions and payments to outside lienholders in a timely fashion.

Perhaps most shocking is that the detailed billing done by the office's computer system (which I understand is mandated by the County) was not reconciled with actual tax requirements.

Now, I am no bookeeper, and can't even balance my checkbook. But having worked in business, as well as running my own, I understand when told that a reconciliation is necessary.

Hopefully, Mr. Marshall has things in hand and next year's audit report will show most, if not all, of these deficiencies corrected.

And with a new administration in place come January, we may expect that a Mayor to whom proper fiscal procedures are important will impress upon the city's administration a higher level of expectation than has been the case under the current mayor.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

What were we paying the South Plainfield Guy/CFO for and how much were we paying him? I think his name was Glen Cullen. Isn't he a CPA? It appears that he wasn't doing his job. The residents deserve an explanation from him.