Mayor: Lack of quorum ‘unprofessional’
Trinity Mayor Carlton Boyles said the City Council’s failure to amend the city’s budget to fix an accounting issue defies explanation and could have serious consequences.
City officials are seeking council approval of six budget amendments related to bond and loan funds used for the construction of Trinity’s sewer system. Last week, a special council meeting was called to consider the amendments two days before the end of the 2012-2013 fiscal year. But the meeting failed to draw a quorum, and a vote couldn’t be taken.
That meant the city ended the fiscal year in a bit of a financial limbo, with its budget out of balance.
Boyles said City Manager Debbie Hinson drafted the amendments before the fiscal year ended. Since they weren’t approved by council, though, he said he fears the city’s annual audit later this summer will flag the bookkeeping error and that Hinson will be blamed.
“What it’s going to amount to is, she’s going to get written up in the audit report for something that isn’t her fault, and that’s what I believe is unprofessional.” he said. “(The council) knew that it had to be done by the end of the (fiscal) year. It’s just a simple formality. It wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes for us to cover all six items we had to do.”
It’s unclear exactly why the budget amendments are needed.
Boyles said the manager apparently is the only one who knows the nature of the amendments. Hinson has been away from work lately because of the death of a family member and has been unavailable for comment.
City officials in her absence said the amendments had to do with costs associated with the closing out of one phase of sewer construction. They said this cost wasn’t budgeted in 2012-2013 because it was unclear whether the money to cover it would be needed in the last fiscal year or the current one.
The amendments would apparently transfer money from the general fund to the sewer fund, but city officials were unable to provide the amount of money involved.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the agency that is the loan holder of Trinity’s bonds for phases 3 and 4 of its sewer system, the only accounting issue yet to be resolved is the refunding of a portion of unspent bond proceeds for a past project.
Discussions between Rural Development and city officials are ongoing over this issue.