City of Baker submitting financial books to state auditors
BAKER - Baker Mayor Harold Rideau admits he’s run a loose ship when it comes to tracking the state’s money and property. Now the city is scrambling to submit its financial information to the state four months late.
Meltus Dike, who runs a business in Baker, said he’s concerned that his elected leaders and those being paid to do the city’s work are failing.
“Every accountant is supposed to know what to do,” Dike said. “You cannot pick anybody and say ‘Be in charge of public funds’.”
A draft audit indicates that the city continues to have no process for keeping track of what it buys, even after auditors made the same observation in the 2014 audit.
It also found that the estimated fund balance – or the amount of money in accounts after expenses are tracked – ballooned by nearly $350,000 between the end of the 2014 fiscal year and the start of the 2015. The audit didn’t explain the reason for the significantly revised estimate.
Rideau said it’s his fault the audit was delayed and will be able to fix the problems.
“We know we’ve identified the issues, but there’s nothing that we can’t fix,” he said “We’re going to fix it.”
He pointed out that no actual crime is revealed in the audit.
“The audit doesn’t show any theft or things like that. There are some procedures that we’re going to have to change,” he said.
He cited personnel changes in the finance office as one of the reasons he has failed to get the job done.
“We’ve had complete turnover in the finance department and that certainly does have an effect because you don’t have a lot of continuity and as a result, you’re going to have some things fall through the cracks,” he said.
The city council meets next week, but there’s no indication it will be presented to council members at that time.