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Letter to the Editor

 

EDITOR

The Countywide & Sun:

Shawnee's annual financial report in 2017 showed that $7 million the City Commission had approved for street improvements was instead spent on other projects. This might have been acceptable if these interfund transfers had gone back to the commission for approval, but they did not. So why didn't the commission call for a forensic audit to ensure there was no wrongdoing or improper procedures? 

The city's annual financial audit with Arledge & Associates is not an investigative audit. Its primary purpose is to ensure financial records follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Their May 4 letter to the City Commission stated: "because we will not perform a detailed examination of all transactions, there is a risk that material misstatements or noncompliance may exist and not be detected by us."  

A financial audit may or may not uncover intentional fraud or misrepresentation of facts, but an in-depth forensic audit will. In addition, it will determine the strength of internal controls and accounting reliability and accuracy. 

Shortly after the city's financial fiasco was discovered, a former city manager from Enid was hired on an interim basis. The Enid News described him as a "lightning rod to deflect criticism from city commissioners" and it appears he played that same role in Shawnee. He encouraged many long-time city employees to retire, cut city staff and services, recommended canceling long-standing contracts, and ordered a work stoppage on major street projects (including 45th Street) because the money was gone.  

The negative impact the city's reckless oversight has had on citizens, projects and services during this time is still being felt. The citizens have a right to know what happened and reassurance that it won't happen again. They deserve proof, not blind assurance and that can only be obtained with a forensic audit. This doesn't have to be a costly, time-consuming state audit but can be conducted by an independent auditor specializing in forensic accounting. Be sure to ask candidates for municipal office this summer where they stand on this issue. 

Linda Agee

Shawnee

 

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