HYATTSVILLE – When Ron Brooks took over as treasurer for the city in 2013, the city was three fiscal years behind on its audits. Now, in 2015, the city is almost done catching up. Hyattsville began running behind on its audits in 2011. The audits, which typically take 90 days to compile and file, are […]
HYATTSVILLE – When Ron Brooks took over as treasurer for the city in 2013, the city was three fiscal years behind on its audits. Now, in 2015, the city is almost done catching up.
Hyattsville began running behind on its audits in 2011. The audits, which typically take 90 days to compile and file, are part of an annual process for making sure municipalities’ financial statements are in compliance with the law and accounting practices. The city also depends on audits to help with certification for issuing bonds and maintaining high bond ratings from Wall Street in New York City.
Brooks, who has 20 years experience in the financial field at three different cities, said when he took over as treasurer the city was recovering from turnover in the highest offices. He said the turnover and search for a city administrator and treasurer caused the city to fall behind on its audits.
“When I came in, the city was behind. The treasurer just left, the treasurer who was here had just left maybe 30 days before I showed up, and that person was also acting city administrator,” Brooks said.
When he took over, Brooks said he immediately tried to tackle the audits and bring them up-to-date and said he has worked diligently to get the audits done.
“When I stepped in at that time from December 2013 up through last year, December 2014, I was able to get the fiscal year 2011 and 2012 completed and filed,” Brooks said. “So right now we’re in the process, we’re at the tail end of completing fiscal year 2013 and by the end of this calendar year I should have 2014 filed as well.”
Tracey Nicholson, city administrator, said the audits are one of the city’s top priorities. She said Brooks has done a “great job” so far.
“The city is working very hard to get caught up and to, once we do get caught up, we will ensure that we remain current, but it’s been a very difficult and long process but we’ve got a great treasure and he’s got a small team,” she said. “It’s just him and an accountant. He’s put all of his time and effort into making this happen for the city.”
Brooks said filing past audits is particularly hard because it requires looking through documents for the time before he came on board. He said a past audit can take up to six or seven months to complete.
“Its just not something that you can pull the trigger on and complete in 30 days because of the number of transactions that any city completes or goes through in a year in and year out basis. There are a lot of transactions, ” Brooks said.
Councilmember Patrick Paschall, who was elected to the council in 2013, said the council was surprised to find the audits so far backlogged.
“We were causing serious headaches for the entire state and it was something that was total news to the mayor and city council. We had no idea that we were that behind in our audits and we were very unhappy with the response that we got from the then city staff,” Paschall said. “Since then there has been a lot of change.”
With the 2013 audit almost completed and the 2014 audit set for completion in December, Brooks said he has begun focusing on 2015 and staying current with audits in the future.
“We’re trying to get all the audits caught up as quickly as possible, at least up to current 2015 so we can keep bond holders at ease, the Maryland infrastructure capital pool fund officials and state senators who represent this area at ease, our local banks or our external stakeholders at ease and taxpayers here in Hyattsville,” Brooks said.
As the City moves forward both Paschall and Nicholson said they believe the city is in good hands and said the city will continue to work to be the best Hyattsville achievable.
“The City of Hyattsville is in good shape. That we have a very dedicated team of professionals making sure that we remain good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and that we account for funding, budgets and expenses so that the city can be confident, the taxpayers and members of this city can be confident that were doing all we can do, to be transparent and again be good stewards of the money,” Nicholson said. “But I think that it’s important to just say that there’s a committed team here that are dedicated to that.”