Still waiting for city to fix finances

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 2, 2019

Will we ever be able to trust local leaders to finally get the city’s finances in order?

The list of promises from at least two administrations to fix the problems in the city clerk’s office has grown past the point of anger and disgust to shame and embarrassment.

Tuesday morning, the city’s auditor notified the mayor and board of aldermen that the city has been penalized with $156,000 in late fees by the Internal Revenue Service for failing to make federal payroll tax deposits for three months in 2017.

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The error, the auditor said, could have been prevented with a monthly reconciliation of the city’s bank statements.

The auditor’s explanation is all too familiar for residents who have been keeping up with the city’s bookkeeping problems in the last decade.

As inexcusable as Tuesday’s revelations may be, what is more galling is that city residents have once again discovered that promises to fix a broken system have gone unfulfilled.

When the city changed from an elected city clerk to an appointed position, residents were promised the situation was going to change.

When the city hired new accountants and purchased new accounting software, residents were promised the city had a plan to fix the problems.

When the city ordered an independent review of the city’s finances, residents were promised things were going to change.

On Tuesday, the newly appointed City Clerk Charles Crump assured the mayor and aldermen that the recent addition of three new staff members will eliminate the deficiencies of the past.

We are skeptical.

Unless and until someone in a leadership position within city government finally demands change in the city clerk’s office, residents will demand change at the ballot box.

After all, we need to find someone we can finally trust with our money.