An audit by the State Board of Accounts of the Town of Zionsville’s finances found several areas of noncompliance with state law.
Findings in the audit include that:
- A lack of proper internal controls led to bank reconcilements not being completed on time or accurately
- $205,585 in disbursements were made from the Town Hall Improvement fund for a town hall renovation project without council approval
- Overdrawn cash balances in three funds
- Several claims lacked supporting documentation and proper approval
- $75,000 from the Motor Vehicle Highway fund, which are to be used primarily for road construction and maintenance, were used to pay for expenses related to a town hall renovation project
- Monthly bank statements and other data were not uploaded to the Indiana Gateway for Government Units as required for 14 of 17 bank accounts between April and December 2021
The town’s official response to the audit, written by Zionsville Chief Financial Officer Kellie Adams, who began working for the town in April 2022, blames many of the issues on implementation of new financial software in 2021 and states that the town is aiming to “part ways” with the vendor by the end of 2022 because of continued issues.
“The Town is assured through this audit that while the system did bring about operational challenges, the financial statements, fund activity, fund balances and cash balances have been confirmed,” the response states. “SBOA has confirmed that while there’s opportunity for improved processes, the financials are free from material misstatements and there were no material errors found that could not be corrected.”
The Town Council also responded to the audit in a letter written by President Jason Plunkett. The council had asked the SBOA to expedite the audit of 2021 finances after expressing concern throughout the year about a lack of financial information and transparency from town administrators.
“The Town Council has become increasingly frustrated with the circumvention of the appropriation process, the lack of transparency in spending and town finances, lack of internal controls, lack of financial information provided to the Town Council, and general concerns about lack of fiduciary responsibility for the Town and our taxpayers,” Plunkett stated in the response. “Despite repeated pleas for the administration to provide clear and transparent financial information, we find ourselves almost 18 months later without the information and data to make informed spending decisions for our Town.”
Much of the response from the town council centers around $205,585 in disbursements from the Town Hall Improvement fund for renovations to the 5-year-old town hall building. Councilors claimed that they did not approve many of the projects associated with the renovations. but that Mayor Emilly Styron and her staff hired vendors to do the work, anyway.
Adams, in her response to the audit on behalf of the town, stated that the council has never approved an annual budget for the Town Hall Improvement fund, although the council is responsible for approving claims from the fund. She stated that the Town Hall Improvement fund is funded by conference room sponsorships and, prior to 2021, rent from tenants renting out the second floor of the building and that tax dollars do not flow into it, distinguishing it from many other town funds.
“The ordinance that was approved to set up this fund states the money is to be used for the maintaining and/or improvement of Town Hall,” Adams stated in the response.