LOCAL NEWS

Village ‘At Risk’

Department of Finance & Administration Asks for ‘Action Plan’

 

By Kathleen Sloan

HERALD Reporter

The Department of Finance & Administration wrote a letter on March 5, addressed to Mayor Pro-tem Deborah Stubblefield, Trustee Paul McCauley and Trustee Don Childers.

The DFA obviously had not been informed that Mayor Carole Schuiling has been in place for more than three months and Childers resigned in November.

The letter states, “As of February 2, 2012, the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) reports that the Village of Williamsburg (the Village) has received an ‘At Risk’ Designation because audits have not been submitted for FY 2009-‘10 and FY 2010-‘11.”

The letter cites various state and administrative codes explaining why the Local Government Division (LGD) of the DFA now has authority to look over the Village’s shoulder.

First, “audits must be current to support and validate budget and financial reports required of local public bodies,” according to State Statute 6-6-2.

Second, the LGD is required to “ascertain the reasons why audits are in arrears and coordinate efforts with the local government and the OSA to get into compliance,” according to State Administrative Code 2.2.3.

Third, the administrative code “further details the process which must be used in order to ensure that the Village comes into compliance with the statutory requirements,” states the DFA letter.

The “LGD reviewed and granted conditional certification to Village of Williamsburg’s FY2011-‘12 budget until audits are brought current,” says the DFA letter.

The LGD is asking the Village to develop an “action plan.”

The DFA asked the Village to respond in writing to the DFA and OSA by March 16. First, they wanted to know “the reasons why the Village of Williamsburg has fallen behind in audit submissions.” Second, they wanted a “draft corrective action plan, including timelines, for submission of the two fiscal years’ audits.”

Mayor Schuiling wrote back Thursday, March 8. “Our previous auditor quit before doing audit FY2009-2010, and the time to acquire a new auditor was more time consuming than anticipated. Our present auditor is working more than he expected in order to finish.”

Schuiling submitted no time line or action plan draft. The letter is about 100 words and very brief.

Asked why she didn’t mention the DFA letter to the public or fellow trustees at the March 15 meeting, Schuiling said, “Why would I do that? It’s a letter between the DFA and Village.” Told that the DFA only does action plans and oversight when malfeasance is a real possibility and has the power to take over the Village administration, just as they are doing in Sunland Park, and wouldn’t she want to warn the public and trustees that DFA is coming? Schuiling said, “I didn’t think it was important.”

Schuiling was reminded that the letter refers to budgets and a conditional certification given to the current budget, which risks state monies, such as the ‘small communities grant.’ The Village received $100,000 and not the usual $120,000 this year. If withheld in upcoming budgets or taken back this fiscal year, it would gut the Village’s operating budget. Was that not worth warning the public and board? Schuiling said, “I don’t remember reading anything about the audit and budget.”

Asked why she didn’t submit an action plan, Schuiling said, “action plan?”

Asked if the auditor is working, Schuiling said yes. Asked if the OSA has responded to the Village’s request to pay him $30,000 more to complete the audit, Schuiling said, “I don’t know.”

This reporter called the Village and Schuiling several more times and received no response to the last question. The OSA has also not responded to the last question as of press time.

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