Westfield council won’t pay consulting invoices because account is over budget 

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The Westfield City Council refused to pay consulting fee invoices for BKD, a CPA firm conducting a citywide audit, during its Sept. 13 meeting after announcing that both administration accounts used for paying for those invoices were more than $500,000 over budget.

The BKD invoices for April through July were an additional $169,516.

Johns

“Per the clerk’s office, where I checked (Sept. 13), there are no funds in the accounts to pay these invoices,” Council President Mike Johns said. “These invoices were to be paid out of one of two administration accounts.”

The first administration account, designed for administrative attorney and consultant fees, has a budgeted amount of $652,200. Year-to-date spending for that account is $923,385. The other account is an administrative account for consulting. Its budgeted amount is $240,000, and its year-to-date spending is $485,641.

“Together, these accounts are over budget $516,826. By state statute, this is not allowed. We are not allowed to spend outside our budget,” Johns said. “I’ll make the observation that this is not Washington, D.C.”

Johns recommended the council not approve payment for the BKD invoices until the council hears from Mayor Andy Cook on which account to draw the money from. Cook was not at the meeting. Johns requested that Cook attend the next council meeting and either provide an explanation on which account can be used to pay the invoices or recommend an appropriation to move funds into the administrative consulting accounts from another account.

“It is particularly disturbing to me that the city council was not notified when a department is over budget,” Johns said. “Department heads should be responsible for notifying the council that there’s a problem. The city council should not have to do forensic accounting to identify when a department is over budget.

“In the private sector, you pick up the phone or send an email to let the person responsible for your company know you’re going to be over budget.”

The council unanimously approved all claims except for the BKD and attorney invoices.


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