Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Audit Hits Brunswick Accounting; Problems Could Hurt State Funding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Audit Hits Brunswick Accounting; Problems Could Hurt State Funding

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

BRUNSWICK -- An audit of the city's finances for the 2001-02 fiscal year turned up numerous accounting shortcomings, some of which could jeopardize state funding, the auditor concluded.

In an eight-page commentary that accompanied the recently completed audit, the firm of Moore Stephens Tiller LLC made 30 recommendations for correcting or improving accounting of public funds and securing the city's assets.

As he has in the past, Mayor Brad Brown blamed many of the deficiencies on former Finance Director Rick Drummond, who retired last year. His replacement, Jimmy Bradley, has corrected many of the accounting problems outlined by Moore Stephens Tiller and has responded to the recommendations, Brown said.

Drummond could not be reached yesterday for comment.

There is one problem, however, the failure to make a $770,759 payment to the city's pension fund by Dec. 31, 2001, that has only worsened -- and Brown said he has no answer.

"Right now, to my knowledge, we don't have the revenue coming in to make the payment,'' he said. "It's a very serious issue, but how do you get blood out of a turnip?''

Auditors noted that the city also failed to make last year's payment.

Bradley said the payment for 2002 is not due until June and he expects it to be made. Catching up with the delinquency will be harder, he said.

"It is budgeted, but starting July 1 we need to make another one immediately. Doing two in one year is a big problem,'' Bradley said.

No one who has retired or is due to retire soon has anything to worry about because there is enough money in the plan to make the pension payments, Bradley said.

"The law will not let us operate a pension plan under a pay-as-you-go procedure,'' he said.

There is probably not enough money in the plan to fund any mass retirements from staff cutbacks, Bradley said. The plan could also fall short if a police and fire department merger resulted in a large number of officers taking early retirement, he said. …

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