Avon Lake

A report from the previous acting finance director shows a number of remaining loose ends from the resignation of Tom DiLellio that could have caused some problems for the city.

In an Aug. 6 e-mail, Anna Musson, who briefly served as the city’s acting finance director, notified Mayor K.C. Zuber of a number of issues she discovered while settling into her position.

“I believe that I have resolved some concerns and potentially saved some costly oversights,” she wrote the mayor.

Musson wrote up a list of 13 items ranging from leaving millions of dollars in a low-interest-bearing bank account, while another account provided a higher rate to unpaid invoices to the state auditor’s office to years of leaving other cities unbilled for using the municipal court.

“I’m disappointed a number of things were not done in a timely basis,” Council President Greg Zilka said. “There’s no way for council to monitor this. The court thing is particularly shocking. We don’t really get to see those internal documents.”

The city should not be in a situation of owing government departments and businesses money, he said. When the city is owed money, it expects the bill to be paid in a timely manner. The city should reciprocate, he said.

Most of the items on the list have been taken care of, Zuber said. Most of what Musson noted were tasks DiLellio had sitting on his desk to do before his resignation. He said he doesn’t believe any of the invoices were paid late.­­

The administration is able to respond to some of the deficiencies, Zilka said. Questions will come up about what will be done to prevent these from occurring again, he said. It would be difficult and inappropriate for City Council to look over the shoulder of the finance director and ask for explanations for everything.

“There needs to be an element of trust,” he said. “I hope we can reach that level again.”

Though he didn’t receive much support for the idea when he first suggested it, Councilman at-Large Dan Bucci said the possibility of an audit is gaining some ground. He said he wants the audit to focus on the period between Jan. 1 and as close to DiLellio’s last day as possible. While Musson’s report highlighted a number of issues, he said the city shouldn’t believe those are the only ones.

“We can’t just look at the report and say everything’s good now,” he said. “It should be the jumping off point.”

The first time Zilka learned of the report was Aug. 16, when Ward 2 Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch informed him of it. Fenderbosch found out about the report the same day after she called and spoke to Musson as a follow-up on her work for the city. Musson told her about sending the report to the mayor Aug. 6.

“That’s the frustration with this,” Zilka said. “It was in-house for that long, and as president of council and chair of finance, I was disappointed I was not made aware of these problems and these issues. I hope in the future I am kept up to date for these issues so we can take corrective action.”

Zilka said he spoke with Zuber about increasing communication and improving the relationship between the administration and council when they met Thursday.

Most of the report dealt with things that are handled by the finance department internally, Zuber said.

During a Monday night Finance Committee meeting, Acting Finance Director Dan Eckert said the taxes and invoices have been paid. The cities of Avon and Sheffield Village are on board with paying the amounts owed for using the Avon Lake Municipal Court. He said Musson filed for an extension for the city’s audit, and he spoke with those who still have to submit information to the auditors. It’s up to the city if it wants to move around funds for better interest rates.

Zuber stated he preferred to wait until the city had a permanent finance director before changing banks.

Key report findings

•Former Acting Finance Director Anna Musson recommends the city move money in banks to take advantage of better interest rates. The city currently has $13.6 million in an account with Fifth Third Bank, earning 3.86 percent in annual interest. It also has about $7.4 million in the Star Ohio bank account, which has an interest rate of .12 percent.

The finance department received a late filing notice June 3 for sales taxes for pool concessions and the Miller Road Park ice and bait sales. Musson paid $817.19 for July 1 to Dec. 31, 2009, (due Jan. 23, 2010) and $514.10 for the period of Jan. 1 to June 30, 2010, to the Ohio Department of Taxation. The city will have to pay a penalty with interest for these late filings.

The cities of Avon and Sheffield Village were not billed since 2007 for use of the Avon Lake Municipal Court.

•The Lorain County Auditor’s Office noted three funds are overstated on the roll-back property taxes. These revenues affect the General Fund by $438,749.58, the G.O. Bond Retirement Fund by $39,142.94 and the Paramedic Levy Fund by $92,991.71. The auditor’s office already takes these funds into account, but the city’s finance department added them unnecessarily.

•The city failed to file for an extension for the audit of the 2009 financials. There is a maximum penalty of $750 or a $25 daily penalty that could be assessed by the state for not filing on time. Musson filed the paperwork to request an extension.

•There were three outstanding invoices for the 2009 audit owed to the state auditor’s office for a total amount of $13,186.43. The statements were from May 31 through July 31, 2010. There was also an outstanding invoice for $3,000 for Costin & Company. They have been paid.

Contact Bryan Wroten at bwroten@2presspapers.com


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