The Carmel City Council approved $52,000 Nov. 21 to pay a consultant for auditing services and decided to pay for it by cutting the clerk-treasurer office’s 2016 end of year budget. No other city departments had their budgets cut to pay for the audit, which disturbed Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley. She described her continuing conflict with the City Council as “one against many.”
The $52,000 is less than the $92,000 requested by Pauley to pay a consultant to do an assets audit. The assets audit is necessary for the City of Carmel to receive an unqualified opinion on its 2015 financial statements currently being audited by the State Board of Accounts.
City Councilor Sue Finkam suggested changes to the proposed ordinances so the money is moved from the clerk-treasurer’s office. Finkam said much of the money is not needed to finish out the last few months of 2016, such as $1,000 for postage, $1,100 for publication of legal ads, $4,700 for office furniture, $10,000 for regular staff salaries and $18,000 for health insurance.
“Departments regularly find unused dollars to apply to lines that have overage,” Finkam said.
Finkam said Pauley can request additional funds, but Pauley called that “very inefficient.”
The amendments and ordinance passed unanimously. Finkam said the remaining amount requested might not be needed or could come out of the 2017 budget.
Pauley disagreed. She argued that since the asset inventory is for the whole city, the cost should be distributed evenly from all departments.
Prior to the vote to transfer funds, Pauley publicly argued with City Council President Ron Carter about how the response to the SBOA audit was going.
Carter alleged at the Nov. 21 city council meeting that Pauley is unwilling to work with city financial consultant Curt Coonrod to finish the response to the audit.
“This has led to unneeded delays and cost to our city’s taxpayers,” Carter said.
This is separate from the assets audit, which Coonrod is not conducting.
Pauley said she has worked with Coonrod before but that, “The City must have the work done in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, standards in order to comply with the state auditors, which Coonrod as a city consultant, has been unwilling.”
Coonrod denied that and said he is happy to cooperate.
Carter said that Pauley is not qualified.
“Christine’s assertions ring hollow, and her statement that she wants the work done a certain way rings hollow in light of the fact that she has no municipal financial experience,” Carter said.
Carter said Pauley’s experience should be contrasted with Coonrod’s. He was elected county auditor of Marion County in 1986. He served two terms on the city-county council and has given numerous seminars on municipal accounting.
“You can see from his extensive background and experience that Mr. Coonrod is more than qualified to be doing the work of the city in this area without the interference of a person who has no municipal accounting experience except for the fact that she campaigned for and won election to the office,” Carter said.
Pauley said her results speak for themselves.
“I demonstrated my commitment to the Carmel taxpayers, the city council and mayor by saving valuable taxpayer dollars which I would have thought would have begun an era of trust in the new clerk-treasurer,” she said. “I still have this hope for 2017 and beyond. I have cooperated fully with all parties involved. This I know I have done.”