He's hoppin' mad that Meg Holland did not run as Margaret Mary Holland, and wants DA John Morganelli to arrest her or something. Good luck with that one, Dave! By the way, Dave, Bethlehem is in Lehigh County, too. So if you want her executed, the person to ask is the state AG. I'm sure Corbett will hop right on it. Bonusgate can wait.
So what's Meg, 'er Margaret May, doing? At a news conference yesterday afternoon, Bethlehem Controller Holland announced an ambitious and detailed first year agenda in a four-page news release. Instead of summarizing it, you should read it yourself. It reveals a consummate professional who takes her job seriously. Voters got this one right.
1. Hire a Deputy Controller - In December 2007 I instructed Jean Zweifel, Director the Human Resources, to put an advertisement for the Deputy Controller position in the newspaper and on Career Builder. I also informed Daryl Yothers (the former Deputy Controller) that I would consider him for the position if he submitted an updated resume to Human Resources. I received approximately 40 resumes from interested applicants for the position. The majority of the applicants were extremely qualified for the position. I narrowed down the 40 applicants to 10 and interviewed them with Ms. Zweifel. Several applicants were willing to take dramatic decreases in salary from their present employment. I hired Eugene Auman on Sunday, January 13, 2008 for the position. Mr. Auman was Vice President of Finance and Administration of Valley Youth House, has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Perm State University and is also certified in human resources. Mr. Auman brings with him over 20 years of financial, managerial and administrative experience with non-profits and governmental entities, particularly in budget preparation, fiscal reporting and contract monitoring.
2. Attend monthly pension board meetings and review reports - As required, I will personally attend the monthly pension board meetings. I attended my first meeting in November 2007 and reviewed all financial reports, actuarial reports, and investment and performance reports with respect to the city's pension funds. I will summarize my review of the aforementioned documents in the coming weeks.
3. Establish fraud deterrence and prevention practices - I will enact several fraud deterrence and prevention practices, including: an anonymous telephone"integrity and humility" tip line, personnel manuals, cash handling procedures, computer access and Internet controls, telephone controls, etc. I will also introduce IDEA software to enhance the current accounting systems and establish routine queries of the city's databases to detect any potential fraud for further investigation.
4. Establish purchase order procedures and authorization controls - My department will perform audits and procedures which will work towards resolving the management comment noted by Maher Dussell CPAs (the CPA firm hired to perform the city's financial audit). This management comment has appeared on the audited financial statements for over ten years. My department will instruct the Accounting Department to record purchase encumbrances, immediately. In addition, my department will institute purchase order reviews, as well as, perform an audit of blanket purchase orders for last twelve months. My department will work with the Continual Improvement (CI) team to review purchase order processing and approval in order to eliminate duplication (i.e. six copies of purchase orders are routed after approval process). Any other management comments noted in the auditors['] report will be resolved and procedures will be instituted to prevent future comments regarding internal control weaknesses.
5. Enact record retention policy for the Accounting and Controller's Department - The legal department recently completed a record retention policy(part of their CI projects) for their department and for city contracts, while researching with respect to governmental record retention. My department, particularly the part-time employee, will work with the CI team and the law department to inventory, categorize and shred unnecessary documents that are currently stored on the fifth floor of city hall. For example, through housecleaning of my department we found telephone books from the 1970s, tax books from the 1980s, four scrap books dating back 40 years with newspaper clippings about former Controller, Wally DeCrosta, and the city administration, a painting from Gloucester Massachusetts from 1966 and various other prints and pictures.
6. Enhance the existing database of municipal contracts with the law department - Until now, the details regarding all city contracts were kept manually on contract cards by the Controller's office, while the law department kept contract detail in a database. My department will enhance the contract database with various contract details to enable more efficient sorting to facilitate audits and reviews of the contacts (i.e. vendor information, dollar amounts, department, purpose, length of time, etc.)
7. Review and monitor the budget process - My department will complete a detailed review of the budget process, budget calculations and overhead allocation (by the Accounting Department) and budget monitoring procedures with a comparison of budgeted amounts to actual amounts by category. I will require an explanation of variances by the applicable department and city administration,which may result in adjustments and changes to future budget calculations. My department will obtain comparative municipalities to the City of Bethlehem from Maher Dussell and will perform ratio analysis to determine areas where the city outperforms its comparatives and areas for improvement and further investigation/review. The Deputy Controller will begin reviewing the actual to budgeted financials for year ended December 31, 2007, immediately.
- For 2006, the accrual basis financial statements indicated an approximate profit of $300,000 and the cash basis budgeted financial statements indicated an approximate loss of ($1,600,000).8. Meet with all departments as to policies and procedures - I or the Deputy Controller will personally meet with all departments to review procedures, policies, any existing manuals, cash handling detail, etc., which will facilitate future audit plans.
- After my review of individual line items, I determined that there was $2,000,000 in interdepartmental revenue recorded on the accrual basis financial statements, which was not recorded on the cash basis financial statements because the revenue was not collected as of December 31, 2006. The difference was primarily due to the following interdepartmental revenue items:
- Ambulance fees (outstanding receivables are overdue and the city has a part-time employee/retiree at St. Luke's Hospital collecting the ambulance fees due to the insurance processing)
- Police roster fees
- 911 fees
9. Review of medical insurance and catastrophic insurance processing - My department will review the medical insurance claims processing procedures and reimbursement of catastrophic medical reimbursements. I have a meeting scheduled for February 11, 2008 with Mike Caruso and Joe Leonard to discuss my questions/concerns.
- The city is currently responsible for catastrophic medical expenses up to $100,000 and up-front expenses over $100,000 and is reimbursed for expenses incurred over the S100,000 threshold. The reimbursements in the past have not been made on a timely basis.
10. Operation and performance audits of departments and other entities (including the entities that are part of the Bethlehem Authority) - My department will perform announced and unannounced operational and performance audits of various departments and entities as determined through my analysis of financial information.
- i.e. the Municipal Golf Course did not make a profit, therefore, my department will review/audit the golf course to make it more efficient (cash collection procedures, increase revenue generation in other ways, etc.)11. Review purchase policies and procedures as they relate to pricing negotiations - My department will review the purchase policies and procedures related to price negotiations for quantity discounts. This relates to office supplies, equipment, energy and utility usage, insurance, etc. For example, two departments will purchase photocopiers/printers at the same time and not consider grouping the purchase for additional discounts.
12. Meet with Sands-Beth Works representatives to review the host fee contract,revenue generation and computations - I will personally meet with the Sands-BethWorks representatives to review the host fee contract, revenue generation and computations.
- Determine the applicable reporting, collection, gaming requirements and remittance of revenue to the city.13. Meet with various other local government controllers to coordinate any efforts with respect to related areas -I will meet personally with other local government controllers (Allentown, Lehigh County, Northampton County, etc.) to coordinate any efforts (i.e. the casino host fees and revenue collection/calculation).
- Determine city collection, reporting, budgeting, projection and spending of revenue with controls.
Update: The Morning Call's story is here.