Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Audit Shows Brunswick Deficit Mayor Criticizes Finance Director

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Audit Shows Brunswick Deficit Mayor Criticizes Finance Director

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- The city spent an $800,000 surplus and used $1.4 million from its reserves to offset overspending last year, an annual audit shows.

After the auditor, Robert Oplinger, presented the report to the City Commission, Mayor Brad Brown accused Finance Director Rick Drummond of not only failing to warn commissioners of the overspending but of concealing it.

"You've been hiding things from us," Brown said. "You've finagled it."

"No sir," Drummond said. "That's the way we've been doing it 20 years."

He has presented monthly financial reports that show spending matched against all money on hand including reserves.

However, Brown said the monthly reports should have shown spending subtracted from available revenue, which would allow a budget deficit to become readily apparent.

By pulling money from the reserves without informing the commissioners, Drummond allowed the drain on the city's emergency funds to go unnoticed, Brown said.

Any excess spending should be voted on by the commissioners, Brown said.

"Budgeted items that go over budget should come before this commission before a dime is spent," he said.

In the past two years, $1.8 million has been spent from what had been $4 million in reserve.

Brown and all the commissioners received monthly reports detailing city spending and the shortfall was on those reports, Drummond said.

"What has always been presented to us is, 'Everything's fine. There's nothing to be worried about,' " Brown said.

He also accused Drummond of omitting the cost of some items from the budget so he could present a balanced budget, another assertion Drummond denied.

But it took Brown awhile to get the commission focused on the overspending. Commissioner Roosevelt Lawrence was intent on questioning Oplinger on why Brown had a copy of the audit days before it was presented to the four other members of the panel. …

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