A state audit of Youngstown’s 2012 finances is essentially a copy of its 2011 audit, its 2010 audit and several others in recent years.
Year after year the audit points out the same deficiencies in city operations: deficits in funds, sanitation revenue subsidizing the general fund, giving grants to companies and agencies from its water and wastewater funds without obtaining documents showing the money was spent for water and wastewater improvements, and failing to have policies on whistle-blowers, cash management and computer data retention.
Of the eight noncompliance citations in the 2012 audit, five are the same as in the 2011 audit. Of the 16 recommendations in the 2012 report, 13 were in the previous year’s audit report.
The 2012 audit was released last Thursday, and the 2011 audit was done in December 2013.
For the sixth-consecutive year, the audit doesn’t include any findings for financial recovery.
“Relatively speaking, it’s a pretty good audit,” said city Finance Director David Bozanich. “We want to improve on it. There’s room for improvement, but we’re pleased with the audit.”
The 2012 audit said the city’s general fund ended that year with a $2.65 million deficit.
That occurred — as it has for years, though this is twice as much as the 2011 audit — primarily because the city doesn’t count loans, guaranteed by irrevocable letters of credit from lending institutions, it gives to businesses for development projects as general-fund expenditures. The auditor says such loans should be listed as expenditures.
“We’re not going to change it,” Bozanich said.
As for other issues, Bozanich said, “We’re trying to get through a few things, and we’ll eventually get there.”
The 2012 audit stated the city failed to set aside enough money for its Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation reserve fund.
The city was $779,210 shy of what BWC recommended the city have on reserve. However, the audit noted the fund was fully funded as of Dec. 31, 2013.
The audit states the city had a $1.9 million surplus of sanitation revenue that was used to subsidize the general fund in 2012. The 2011 surplus was $1.6 million, and $1.2 million in 2010. Both surpluses were used to subsidize the general fund in those years.
The city reduced its residential garbage fee by $12 a year to its customers, effective Jan. 1, because of the surpluses.
Also, the 2012 audit stated the city was giving water and wastewater grants to businesses and agencies without supporting documentation showing the money was used for water and wastewater improvements. This audit went back to 2010 and listed 11 loans of at least $25,000 for which the city didn’t have adequate paperwork to show how that money was spent.
“We put a system in place last year to better monitor that,” Bozanich said.
The audit pointed out again that the city hasn’t developed a plan to prohibit its employees and officials from accumulating frequent-flyer airline miles.
Bozanich said there is so little airline travel by city officials and employees that it isn’t worth the work to develop a plan.
As for not having policies on whistle-blowers, cash management and computer data retention, Bozanich said the city is short-staffed and hasn’t been able to develop policies on these issues.