I’m writing this letter because I feel compelled to correct some of the erroneous statements Commissioner Schelly made in his highly critical letter to the editor which appeared in the Town Crier’s Jan. 5 issue.
For starters, Schelly said, “Mr. Killingsworth is all too aware that under his watch as treasurer the audits were missing for four years.” What he is apparently referring to are the missing audits for fiscal years 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07. As it happens, I was appointed to the Board of Commissioners on July 29, 2008. Since annual audits must be completed in sequential order, the 2006-2007 audit was not completed until about May 29, 2009.
After serving on the board for a few months, I realized the need for somebody on the board to independently monitor spending and income, so, at my request, I was appointed board treasurer in early 2009.
My duties as treasurer, as described in the IFPD Administrative Regulations, were “Provides budget oversight for the board and the public by reviewing the monthly budget status reports prepared by staff, then preparing and presenting an overview to the board and the public at the first regular board meeting following the end of the previous calendar month.”
As Schelly often pointed out, while belittling my reports, I was in no way in charge of our finances. He even argued that it was illegal for me to act as treasurer.
Indeed, budget oversight is the responsibility of the board, as clearly spelled out in the IFPD Administrative Regulations. Apparently the board understands that now. They eliminated the treasurer position after my departure, apparently feeling it is unnecessary and a lot of work.
In view of the foregoing, it is hard to understand how Schelly can say I “left a mess.” The only “mess” is the one caused by the past failure of the board as a whole to make an effort to understand budget matters.
Speaking of a mess, if I hadn’t taken it upon myself to initiate and do all the leg work needed to arrange for the advance from the county, IFPD would now be in a world of hurt.
Schelly also said that we “improperly used $125,000 of restricted accrued benefits money.” My recommendation to the board was, “We have a $125,000 CD set aside for employee accrued benefits. We have no choice but to cash it in in order to tide us over until we receive a loan from the county. When we receive the advance we should immediately take out another $125,000 CD.”
Also, in our letter to the county requesting the advance, we said that was exactly what we intended to do. To the best of my knowledge, it has not been done.
Up until a few years ago, IFPD routinely asked for and received an advance. The reason they did so, and the reason we did so this year, is that we do not receive our first property tax income payment of around $250,000 from the county until mid-December, followed by additional payments in January, April and May.
That means having to rely on money left over on June 30, plus about $317,000 in miscellaneous income received in July through November, to pay monthly expenses averaging about $143,000 a month during July through November, plus about $110,000 in the first half of December.
But they were able to stop doing so when property tax income began increasing every year due to ever increasing property values. But, as we all know, property values began declining a few years ago, resulting in a decrease of over $175,000 over a three year period in our annual secured property tax income, making it now almost impossible to get through the first 6 months without an advance.
And finally, Schelly said, “the leader is being paid over $100,000 a year.” Unless they gave Walker a raise right before they fired him, he was being paid $92,400 a year.
Editor’s note: The fire department’s failure to perform audits in a timely matter did not originate with Mr. Killingsworth’s appointment to the commission. While the audits are now being conducted, the completion is still late.
The 2010-11 audit has not started. Consequently, this prevented IFPD from refinancing the loan for the engines purchased in 2008.
To put this delay in perspective, each of the three local water districts already had a completed 2010-11 audit during the fall of 2011.
Regarding whether this funding situation is normal, please read the “IFPD budget workshop” article on page 1.