Every year cities undergo an audit in order to provide them with information that will be useful in managing the cities finances and services. An audit covers things such as financial practices, deficiencies, evaluations of city programs and services, good governance and helps ensure proper risk management.
For the last few years, the City of Lytle has been behind on the completion of our audits.
Within months of joining Lytle City Council, I noticed a few things that needed attention in order to make sure we were taking care of our city’s funds. When the audit was brought before the city council my first year in office, I reviewed the report and started to ask questions about the efficiency of our auditor.
After a year on council, our Fiscal Year 2015 – 2016 audit was finally completed and presented in July 2018. At that point, our audits were 2 years behind and I knew the city was in trouble.
I asked an item be placed on the September 2018 agenda to have our financial advisor, Mark McLiney, brief council on the status of our bond rating, as it is tied to the completion of the audits. Mr. McLiney basically highlighted my concerns. He encouraged the city to get caught up as soon as possible, due to the city’s bond rating that could be in jeopardy.
From that point on, it has been a priority of mine to get the city caught up. Unfortunately, it has not been the Mayor’s top priority. After a discussion with him last year, I requested an executive session on the topic in a council meeting, but was denied, and was told I would not be given the opportunity to voice my concerns in front of the council.
Last year, we asked our current auditor what we needed in order to catch up, and he advised us to hire an accounting expert to aid him in the process. Council agreed this was a needed expense in order to catch up with our audit, and agreed to hire someone at $75 per hour to help. She did a great job and was done within weeks, but then it went to the auditor. Here we are, almost a year later and still two years behind our audits. There has been no progress on the part of the auditor, after working to give him the information he needed and the opportunity to assist our city.
By the way, we have had our same auditor for 20 + years. Unless something changes, we will be very challenged to get caught up.
I am very worried about the situation the City of Lytle is in. I know that audits can be caught up within six to eight months with the right auditor. To emphasize, one of the nearby communities previously hired the same auditor Lytle uses. He was recently replaced, and that city was able to get their past two years caught up in six months with new auditors. Additionally, the same new auditor assisted that community with the alignment of their books.
So why am I writing this? I personally think the Lytle community needs to know that we are in trouble with our audits. For two years, I have attempted to have the City of Lytle replace the current auditor and have been met with resistance. Audits are critical to how financially sound a city is viewed, and they must be done on time. If you ask any governmental or business accountant, they will let you know that audits are usually completed within six to eight months of the year’s close out and they are one of their top priorities.
It is now June 2020, and we have not even been briefed on the 2018 audit yet…
Ruben Gonzalez, Alderman,
City of Lytle (Mayor Pro-Tem)
Editor’s Note: Lytle City Council meets monthly on the Second Monday of the month currently in the Lytle Community Center at 6:30 p.m.. Social distancing and masks are encouraged right now. The meetings are lived streamed starting with the June15 meeting. See details about agendas and how to watch the council meetings on Zoom on the city website at lytletx.org.