THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Audit finds ‘significant deficiencies’ in Quincy

By Jessica Bartlett
Globe Correspondent / July 12, 2012
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While Quincy officials say they are making progress with accounting practices, an auditor’s recent report has a city councilor questioning if the city is doing enough.

According to an independent auditor’s management letter by Powers & Sullivan LLC, submitted to the city this past January for fiscal 2011, Quincy has “certain deficiencies in internal control that we consider to be significant deficiencies and material weaknesses.”

Among them, the city has only “partially resolved” a problem of deficits within the police and fire detail fund and has yet to implement a set of procedures for recording these details. The city has implemented a billing system for police details but not for fire details.

Additionally, the city has yet to implement a process to make the compiling of financial statements more accurate and timely; has developed but not implemented an internal policy for day-to-day handling of finances within departments; and has yet to institute a continually up-to-date database for capital expenditures, the 27-page letter said.

While the auditing letter was completed months ago, it was brought to light only recently through Councilor Brian McNamee’s newsletter, after he requested the documents from the city.

The letter is addressed to the council as well as to the mayor, but McNamee said it was never provided to the council.

“This is something addressed to the City Council — it should have been disseminated immediately. This suggests that management does not want this to be a document in the public domain, as it should be, so this can be the subject of City Council oversight,” McNamee said.

Mark Cavanagh, director of municipal finance, didn’t return calls for comment. However, mayoral spokesperson Christopher Walker said the auditing letter actually shows progress.

“The most serious issue is something that goes back as far as the 1990s, and the auditors themselves say the city is on its way to resolving those issues,” Walker said. “All other issues are historic in nature, and quite contrary to what the council suggested; the report shows that the city is systematically dealing with all of these issues and correcting them. There are some issues where work remains, and there will always be, but overall this report shows the progress we have made in the last several years.”

Councilor Joseph Finn, chairman of the Finance Committee, said he had not seen the letter, but said he wasn’t surprised at the findings.

“More telling is how long have they existed and why has nothing been done,” he said.

Finn was surprised that the letter hadn’t been disseminated to the council, and said he planned to ask about it.

“The critical thing is they aren’t hidden from the public,” he said.

Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.may.bartlett@gmail.com.

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