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Letters To The Editor

 

EDITOR

The Countywide & Sun:

In a July 17 News-Star article, Commissioner Harrod said he “can’t find $7 million in the budget, let alone $7 million missing.” He needs to look at Page 51 in the annual audit for the year ending 6-30-2017. It clearly shows $7 million missing from the street fund, to be paid back from: Capital Improvements, Airport Authority, SMA, Street & Alley, and General Fund.

However, City Treasurer Chance Allison said the money will not be paid back. The money “owed” to the street fund had been appropriated for the Kickapoo Spur-to-Farrall and 45th Street intersection projects. Because the street money is gone, the Kickapoo Spur-to-Farrall project will be funded from the new 1/2-cent sales tax and the 45th Street improvements will not happen.

State Statute 11-17-216 says: “A budget amendment authorizing a decrease in the total appropriation of funds shall be adopted at a meeting of the governing body.” I challenge the Commission to show the public where they authorized transferring $7 million out of the street fund.

Shawnee Municipal Code Article V Sec. 2-242 says: “Department heads are designated as purchasing officers” and “a written authorization form must be filed with and approved by the city treasurer-finance director for all employees authorized to make purchases.” The city engineer was the only person authorized to request purchase orders using money in the street fund and he was not aware the money was gone until he was told to stop work on several projects.

City Manager Eric Benson said, “Unfortunately the budgeted amounts in recent years have exceeded the revenue amounts” and “the city had the opportunity to offset that with savings.” No mention made of using money appropriated for streets without City Commission approval.

When I served on the Commission, we held workshops every year to identify and prioritize projects. Those considered most important were included in the budget, which was then approved by the Commission. If the current Commission thinks it is okay for city staff to take money away from these projects without coming back to them for approval, we need a new Commission.

City staff and officials keep saying they did no wrong and can account for every penny. If they did no wrong, why not show citizens precisely where the money went and why? If they are not capable of doing this, they can hire an outside accounting firm. These are taxpayer dollars and the citizens have a right to know.

Linda Agee

Shawnee

 

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