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LETTER: Time for new audit procedure for city

To the Editor:

I have been following your stories about the mishandling of cash and other issues at the city-owned Corn Palace. Mayor Ken Tracy stated he felt he had to ask for Mark Schilling’s resignation because city procedures weren’t being followed. Here is my question. Isn’t it the finance officer’s responsibility to make sure that all city funds are handled appropriately and proper procedures are being followed?

Councilman Mel Olson was quoted as saying that the audit findings are perhaps not as dark as they appear and that things have been done this way for many years. If Mark Schilling was the Corn Palace director for 13 years, why was he allowed to not follow the city’s procedures until now? There seems to be a big issue about the misuse of a city credit card and that bills were paid without the proper documentation.

It is my understanding that the city’s accounts payable clerk is responsible for making sure that all documentation is in order and the city’s fi nance officer is ultimately responsible for paying the city’s bills after the council has given approval. If the proper documentation wasn’t attached to the invoice to be paid, why wasn’t it questioned by the finance office? I am not saying that what Mark Schilling did is right, because it’s definitely not right when taxpayer money is involved. However, I think that fingers need to be pointed at the city’s finance office as well as Mark Schilling.

An audit is performed every year on the city’s fi nances. I’m wondering why the auditor never questioned the cash handling procedures for the Corn Palace, or for any other city department. Not long ago there was a problem at the senior services center, where a city employee (Shannon Foster) was fired for embezzling money. Ms. Foster was allowed to plea bargain and received a slap on the hand for admitting to taking city money. I believe it is time for a new audit fi rm to perform the city’s annual financial audit. And maybe it is time for the mayor to ask for the fi nance offi cer’s resignation as well.