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GIRARD Auditor's report shows problems



Published: Thu, January 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The report is standard when communities are under a fiscal emergency.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- The state auditor's office has found a number of deficiencies in this city's accounting methods, including a lack of policies and procedures.

Auditor Jim Petro released the 40-page report this week that addresses problems in many areas of city government.

Kim Norris, Petro's spokeswoman, said accounting reports are done when a community is under a state-imposed fiscal emergency.

Petro declared Girard in fiscal emergency Aug. 8 because the city defaulted on loans and some of its operating funds were in the red.

Norris said the report was completed for use by the financial planning and supervision commission appointed to oversee city finances during the emergency.

Ready for fix: City Auditor Sam Zirafi said a state auditor told him the report would point out deficiencies.

"They'll be corrected," Zirafi asserted. "I knew there were things that were wrong here."

Zirafi pointed out that he inherited the problems when he took office earlier this year.

Zirafi replaced Sam Lamancusa, who resigned from the city auditor's job to become office manager at the Trumbull County Treasurer's Office in February.

Some deficiencies, however, fall within Zirafi's time in office, such as establishing special funds without authority.

For example, there are purchase orders without detailed descriptions, quantities and prices.

In addition, there are no minutes of bid openings, no buying policy or procedures manual, and purchase orders are not used for all expenditures.

The state report notes that disbursements are made without a cash balance to cover the obligations and disbursements are made for expenditures without the auditor's certification.

The city also doesn't keep a list of all personal service contracts, and there are no policies and procedures to disburse city funds.

Policy on workers: The city doesn't have a formal written leave-accrual policy for nonunion workers and doesn't require a supervisor's written approval for leaves, except sick leave, the report says.

The city lacks written policies concerning petty cash and doesn't have a formal investment policy approved by the treasurer or city council, nor an investment advisory board.

Also, the city doesn't have backup for its computer files outside city hall and doesn't have a disaster recovery plan for its computer system and accounting records.

City council doesn't receive monthly reports for all funds.

The report says minutes of some council committee meetings are not kept.

Resolutions and ordinances do not always have council signatures and appropriate dates of passage.

The report points out that the municipal court lacks procedures to monitor, track and collect parking ticket fines.




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