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March 18, 2013

New Albany audit takes issue with purchases, payments

Attorney says city followed state rules

(Continued)

NEW ALBANY —

In the city’s response, Robison stated that City Controller Mary Ann Prestigiacomo has made policy changes to give her direct supervision over bank reconciliations. 

The state board of accounts has acknowledged the ledger discrepancies were the result of posting errors stemming back to 2003, when a prior administration installed a new software system, Robison stated. 

“Moreover, the state board of accounts representatives have rendered a plethora of legal opinions throughout this process,” Robison stated. “This is improper and unfair.” 

A message left last week for Charlie Pride, supervisor of cities, towns and libraries for the State Board of Accounts, hadn’t been returned as of press time. 

Auditors also took issue with the manner then-City Attorney Shane Gibson was paid for legal services. Gibson had a contract with the city to be paid $50,000 for 2011 plus an hourly rate of $150 for any work performed in excess of 10 hours per week. 

According to the audit, Gibson was paid $238,593 for the year, and though the city has a separate budget for the city attorney, a bulk of the payments were billed to other departments or accounts. 

For example, Gibson was paid about $36,000 from the stormwater and sewer departments. Auditors stated in the report that use of funds should be limited to expenses authorized by statute or ordinance. 

Robison again disagreed with the state auditors. In his response, Robison said Gibson’s assignments included litigation work for sewer, stormwater, zoning and other city departments. 

“The audit comment correctly points out that sewer/storm water utilities were charged for the appropriate work and not apportioned,” Robison stated. “This is because they are user-fee based and are required to support their operations, including legal services.” 

England had the authority to pay Gibson from various department funds in which he performed legal services to support, Robison continued. 

“The process followed clearly falls within the duties and powers of the mayor and the administration to determine the most appropriate and efficient manner in which to operate,” he stated. 

The State Board of Accounts audits government entities annually, and will provide a report likely this year on the financial operations of New Albany for 2012. 

Audits can be viewed online through the State Board of Accounts’ website at www.in.gov/sboa.

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