A state audit of Brentwood’s books—and its related policies and procedures—is set to begin this month.
The announcement was made Tuesday night during a Brentwood Board of Aldermen meeting that drew more than 100 people.
Chris Vetter, audit manager for the state, made a brief presentation and introduced senior auditor, Carl Zilch Jr., who will conduct most of the day-to-day work. They expect to add another person to the team.
Vetter provided basic information about the petition-driven audit and explained the process.
The audit will include interviews with department heads, and a review of their financial statements and policies; a private meeting with the board to discuss the state’s findings and to obtain the city’s remarks, and a final report incorporating all of the information online.
If Brentwood’s audit is found to be in poor condition, the state auditor’s office will also conduct a follow-up in 90 days.
(Get real-time updates about Brentwood news on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MaplewoodBrentwoodPatch)
Vetter said that the state’s examination of the city’s fiscal records was a “financial-related audit,” which means the auditors would gather information and give recommendations, but not render an opinion.
Although it is not forensic, the audit will not be "cursory" in its examination of content either, Vetter said.
However, it will focus on the 2011 calendar year, the same year that former of stealing nearly $30,000 from the city coffers, and the same year that came to light.
“We’re primarily focusing on 2011, but we’re not limited to that,” Vetter said. “We can go back further, if we think that there is something to be looked at, or look into the current (year).”
Although the meeting was heavily attended—all 75 seats in the gallery of were taken with more people standing in the back of the room and in the hallways—only a handful of residents asked Vetter questions.
Among them was Jan Yoder. She wanted to know if and how residents could contact the auditors directly. Vetter left a stack of business cards with contact information.
Brentwood businessman and resident Rick Bauer wanted to know how to get a forensic audit “to deal with the crap that’s been going on for 20-plus years.” Vetter said the city would have to hire an outside firm.
Former U.S. Rep. and Brentwood resident Joan Kelly Horn followed up on Bauer’s concern of perceived financial irregularities that go beyond the one-year threshold.
“I think we all know why we are here,” she said. “We all know what’s been happening. We’ve all been embarrassed by headlines on the front page, and by what’s been going on, and it has been going on for more than one year.”
Vetter said state auditors don't plan to examine material covered by prior auditors or courts.
"But if a lot of people want us to look at a certain area, we will," Vetter said.
“So you would like a lot of phone calls or emails,” Horn asked.
“Absolutely,” Vetter said, which prompted the former Congresswoman to say she could guarantee that. Laughter followed and provided a brief break to the meeting.
The audit is the result of a summer 2011 petition , who has since . Mike Daming and James Bischoff have also filed to run in Ward 1.
The petition garnered 869 valid signatures; only 581 were needed, which is based on the number of people who voted in the last election. The estimated cost of the audit is between $50,000 and $75,000.
“Our team will look at a litany of things to see if sound financial processes are being followed, said Spence Jackson, spokesman for state auditor.
However the office doesn't have the authority to enforce any recommendations.
“We always include recommended changes in our report but we cannot compel change," Jackson said. "This becomes a citizen-control issue that residents can take up with law-enforcement if it’s a legal issue, or at the ballot box if it’s not.”