durantdemocrat.com

Council discusses financial discrepancy

Jason Angus Reporter jangus@civitasmedia.com

October 16, 2013

The Altus Municipal Authority and City Council approved to hire an accounting firm to help reconcile an unexpected financial discrepancy, and also received new information on the Reverse Osmosis water plant during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15, in council chambers of the Municipal Complex.


The AMA received a presentation by Municipal Electric Systems of Oklahoma (MESO) Director Tom Rider, who presented a plaque to Altus Power for Mutual Aid Assistance, recognizing their contribution to help “keep the power and lights on” in Olustee by servicing a power pad transformer for a grain elevator, a switch station board, and OMPA Substation. “We are appreciative of them as a member of our organization, as well as what they do for Oklahoma,” Ryder said.


The AMA also received an update from Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston on the application sent to the Governor for Drought Emergency Relief Funds, and also on the receipt of a $100,000 check from the State Emergency Management for waterline utility damage due to drought. Lloyd stated that City has incurred about twice that amount to drought related damages that continue. “This is not a one man effort,” Colston said. “Diann Biggers and the Water Department worked extra hard providing me figures so I could continue to state the values of the damages. Engineer Phil Beauchamp also help connect the dots they were looking for. And Water and Street Departments made sure there was very little waste of City money.” Lloyd added that Governor Fallin has signed the declared a Drought Emergency, placing Altus in one of five counties that can now apply for assistance from the State Drought Commission, and has received our application for relief funds.


James Wilson with the Financial Department gave a financial summary presentation to the AMA, on budget performance, and gave a breakdown on the MAPS Fund. Wilson highlighted that the City is 25 percent into the current FY, and so far has spent 21.9 percent with revenue slightly ahead of the the budget at 25.6 percent.


“Reserve funds are growing, and the plan is to let that process continue until you have fully replenished your reserve funds,” Wilson stated.


Wilson also pointed out that the Financial Department was notified this week, by their current auditor, that a 1.3 million discrepancy had existed in a “pulled cash” account, now down to about $100,000, due to an internal error, and is considered a potential material weakness that requires reconciliation.


“We’ve had people on staff previously that weren’t accountants and entries have been made that they didn’t know they were making and we’re trying to find those, and they’re not easily found,” Sr. Accountant Amy Lucas explained.


The auditing firm advised that the City should hire an accounting firm to assist and resolve the issue quickly to avoid an interruption in the auditing process. Failure to complete the audit by Dec. 31, could cause a delay in borrowing funds as the prior year audit is often required. This issue was brought up at the end of the City Council meeting under new business where Council approved to hire Crawford and Associates, capped at $10,000, to help reconcile the account.


“The external auditors can’t move forward until we identify these remaining items,” Wilson said. “We are so short handed we can’t work anymore hours to get this work done.” Wilson said the City does have funds in the adopted budget to hire the firm.


The AMA awarded Bid #14100 for sodium permanganate at $1.145 per wet pound for a total estimated cost of $40,000, and awarded Bid #14200 for aluminum based liquid coagulant at $0.515 per wet lb. for a total est. annual cost of $134,000. Both separate items are for the Water Treatment Plant. Both bids went to Southwest Chemical Services, Inc., of McAlester, as the best and only bids. Plant Supervisor Gene Leister informed that sodium peranganate is $0.05 less per wet lb. compared to last year, and the aluminum based liquid coagulant is $3.5 less per wet lb. than last year.


The AMA tabled the item for Bid #14300 for copper sulfate aqueous solution as the best and only bid at $0.823 per wet lb. Leister informed that the price increased $0.30 per wet lb. compared to last year, stating it could be because the location of the supplier, General Chemical Performance Products, is in Parsippany, New Jersey. The item was tabled to allow time for City Attorney Catherine Coke to find out if a re-bid is allowed to find the solution at a lower cost.


During this discussion Leister informed that the construction on the Reverse Osmosis Plant won’t begin for another 10 months, and will take an addition 8 months to complete. Councilman Micheal Beason inquired on why the Water Treatment Plant has a budget of $614,700. Leister informed this year’s budget is higher compared to having spent approximately $288,000 last year to allow completion of the Reverse Osmosis water plant this year. After receiving an update on the time frame to complete the R.O. plant, Beason asked to place a budget amendment item on the next City Council meeting agenda.


The AMA approved Resolution No. 2013-42 to adopt the budget amendment for the Fiscal Year 2013-2014, to keep the budgets and revenues in balance after having been awarded a $46,800 grant from the Strategic Military Planning Committee.


The AMA also authorized the Purchasing Department to advertise for bids for contracted services for Directional Boring and Trenching for future Electric Department projects. Electric Department Superintendent Dan Scott informed that this in an annual bid process and upcoming projects.


During the City Council meeting there were several comments made from the public audience. Former Councilman Jack Smiley commented that after discussing the planing process of the R.O. plant during the last regular City Council meeting, he had inquired about the matter resulting in an email from the Department of Environmental Quality that stated, “At this time we have not received any additional information from the City.” Smiley stated contrary to what the City was told previously, the City hasn’t been waiting on the DEQ, but they have been waiting on the City. After further discussion, this was requested to be an item on the next meeting agenda.


Council approved to amend an Emergency Ordinance No. 2013-17 to decrease customer charges per month for Level 2, Industrial from $.039 to $.0381, due to a mathematical error, and voted to approve the emergency section making it effective Oct. 15. They also awarded Vehicle and Liability Insurance to the lowest, best and most responsible bidder, OMAG of Edmond.


Council approved Bid #13910 for labor services only to re-stripe seven miles of City streets, to Direct Traffic Control, Inc. as the lowest bidder in the amount of $20,000.


After discussion of new business, City Administrator’s, Council members and Mayors comments, the meeting adjourned.