Blue collar union to see pay increase

May 2, 2013 • Local News

Starting [auth] today, members of the blue collar union will see a two percent pay increase, after the City Council approved ratification of a collective bargaining agreement Thursday night during a special meeting.

The council also approved audited financial statements for the city’s fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012.

According to the city’s annual financial report, the assets of the city exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year, the city’s total net assets increased and the city’s total debt decreased during the current fiscal year.

However, one troubling finding of the audit is that the audit itself was late.

According to the report, the audit “was on schedule to meet the State Auditor’s December 1, 2012, submission deadline,” yet at least one councilor returned an inquiry form to the audit group “questioning the city’s practices on several issues.”

As a result, additional procedures and funding — at least $15,000 — were required to review the allegations. Mayor Del Jurney said the word “fraud” was mentioned specifically.

Councilman Steve Henderson said the investigation found no fraud and asked that in the future, council members consult with city staff if they have questions before making such a charge.

“We’ve gone through this whole exercise for nothing because we’ve got a clean bill of health,” he said in a meeting of the council’s Finance Committee, held earlier that day.

In the same meeting, Councilor Juan Oropesa said he expressed concerns he had because the audit group asked.

“I was honest about it,” he said.

Councilor Jeanine Best admitted she raised an issue with the municipal golf course, but “I did not use the word ‘fraud,’” she said.

City Manager Larry Fry said the late audit put the city at risk in several ways, such as not allowing it to apply for a Community Development Block Grant and damaging its bond rating. The late audit could also affect the city’s state and federal funding.

During the full council meeting, Henderson said he doesn’t think those who expressed concern were trying to be negative, but he again asked council members to talk with city staff first.

Jurney said the allegation has several unintended consequences that create a “very unfortunate, very costly situation.”

“If you don’t know that there’s fraud, don’t make the allegation,” he told the council.

Fry said the audit group has been invited to the council’s next Finance Committee meeting, scheduled for Wednesday.

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