Controller defends pace of work to correct city’s finances

At Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, Controller Matthew Agresta said the corrected 2011-2012 audit report required by NY State should be completed by the end of this week at which point his office will begin working on the 2012-2013 report. The controller’s office, along with two contracted accounting firms have been working since last year to work through years of incorrectly entered financial records and re-submit the corrected audit reports to the state.

Alderman Ed Russo asked Agresta for a time line as to when the entire project would be completed. He said,“I know we’re moving forward, I guess maybe not as fast as I want to see it, but how much more time are we going to need?”

“It should not take more than six months,” said Agresta. He explained that the 2011-2012 period contained the most problems and that he thought it was likely that 2012, 2013 and 2014 would not take as much time to correct as previous years.

“But until we actually get in the 12-13 [records] and see where we stand, I can’t say definitively that it will be easier. It should be,” he added.

Russo referred to former Fourth Ward Alderman Dave Dybas’ practice of voting no on financial resolutions because of the inaccuracies in the city’s accounting.

Russo said, “How can you vote yes on something when we really don’t know where we stand? I’m not blaming you, but…you just can’t keep spending money if you don’t where we are. Do we have to hire two more auditing companies to come in here to get this done next month? …Nothing against the companies or yourself, you’re doing a good job, but we’re not moving anywhere it doesn’t seem to me.”

“So am I doing a good job or not? You just said both,” said Agresta.

He continued saying, “I don’t think many people have had the situation where they are trying to reconcile accounts from four years ago for an entire city… I’ve told all of you that if at any point you want to come in and sit for a day to see what we have to do to get one step further than we were yesterday, then maybe you would agree a little more that this process is…it’s not just the books…there’s [KVS accounting system] issues that we didn’t know were issues until we get to the point that we are trying to resolve the issue associated with it. Then we have to worry about how do we fix that. Then we go back to what we were doing as far as actually reconciling the books.”

“I understand this is taking a lot longer than everybody wants. Believe me, there is nothing more than I would like to have all this done,” said Agresta, “But, we need to do it right.”

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.