Undue Influence by Findlay Mayor on City’s Audit


Findlay Mayor, Lydia Mihalik, explained in an open letter to the residents of Findlay how her administration had an influence on the audit being performed on city operations by the Ohio State Auditor’s office.

The Mayor wrote, in part: “The State Auditor’s Report has not been finalized at this point. When taking office my administration reviewed the information that was being considered for the final report. After this review, we had questions relative to what a “peer” actually was, and then requested that Auditor Yost’s office re-evaluate their assessment.” (See the full text of the letter below.)

The question is, were the changes in the audit procedure reasonable or did the city administration exert undue influence on the audit process, thereby invalidating the independent nature of the audit.  The answer is, without 100% transparency, the public will never know.

What information did the Findlay City Administration review that caused such consternation that they felt the need to seek relief?  The public has the right to see, in detail, all of the information that passed between that audit team and the city administration.  Any documents, email exchanges, the nature and details of any conversations, should be made public immediately.  Also the original findings based on the original methodology of the audit should be made public with the final report.

Mayor Mihalik would have us believe that this kind of give and take between an audit team and the organization being audited is common place.  I find this to be a highly dubious assertion.  Regardless, the only way to maintain the integrity of this audit process is for the administration to provide detailed information, now rather than later, on what they found to be objectionable about the original audit procedure and for the public to have full knowledge of how the administration changed the audit methodology and how those changes influenced the outcome of the audit.

To the extent that the Mayor has influence over that audit, it would be in her and everyone’s best interest if the final report from the State Auditor’s office is released well in advance of the November election.

Complete text of Mayor Mihalik’s open letter:

Findlay Resident,There have been numerous questions and comments placed in several local publications regarding the ¼% income tax renewal and the way that we as a city conduct business. I fully expect that other opinions will be offered over the next 60 days, and my administration will do its best to respond and keep the public accurately informed. While I believe it is correct that little has been done to prepare for this situation, I disagree that we aren’t making strides towards a leaner and more productive government for our taxpayers. Here are the answers to a few questions that have been posed:The State Auditor’s Report has not been finalized at this point. When taking office my administration reviewed the information that was being considered for the final report. After this review, we had questions relative to what a “peer” actually was, and then requested that Auditor Yost’s office  re-evaluate their assessment. We did what any other business owner would do and requested a fair assessment. Not asking for additional work to be done in this audit is unfair to the process and would not yield productive ideas on how to reduce the size of our government. Instead, we feel that this information will be valuable and will be a true representation of our needs. This report is not completed and, therefore, has not been shared with the public or other elected officials.Auditor Staschiak reported at the July 24, 2012, mid-year budget review that the City of Findlay’s employee count has decreased by 3 full time positions since my administration took office 9 months ago. We have instituted more seasonal and part time employees to reduce the amount of wages and overall burden on the general fund. My administration will continue to examine potential staffing efficiencies and what may be available through attrition.I have seen many comments in regards to the Hochstettler building that was purchased for the potential home of the Health Department. As it has been reported, we have had productive conversations with members of the District Advisory Council on a county wide health district. There are still many logistical aspects of the plan that need to be worked out. That being said, it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars to add additional money to update this facility, when we are unsure exactly where the Health Department will be located.It is clear that potential shared services must be evaluated to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in some cases. That is why we have collaborated through conversations with County and Township officials alike. The work with the District Advisory Council on a potential county wide health district is just one opportunity. Additionally, we have evaluated a potential consolidation of the City’s emergency notification system. Officials from both the City and County have met several times to evaluate the needs and resolve any concerns that may be present. Consolidating services is not something that can be completed overnight, and we will continue to look at opportunities in the future. Rest assured, we will continue evaluating potential shared services for all sectors of our local government.

In these challenging economic times, all city departments have been required to cut their respective budgets in light of our current financial situation. It is also apparent that we have not been growing other departments at the expense of others. Our capital needs are a priority but, as I have said many times, we do not have a clear plan for our capital needs. Developing such a plan will allow us to accurately assess these types of projects, which was discussed at length in nearly every meeting we attend. I believe that having an ad hoc committee dedicated to a solution for this problem will be beneficial for our entire community.

It should go without saying that my administration is not able to control every aspect of the past. We can, however, take responsibility for the situation that we are in and work together to fix it. If you have questions about how we operate or where we are headed, please contact my office at 419-424-7137 Monday- Friday 8:00am-5:00pm, or send me an email at mayor@findlayohio.com . I look forward to continuously working with members of our community as we seek to reform our local government to be efficient and effective for our residents.

Sincerely,

 

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One Response to Undue Influence by Findlay Mayor on City’s Audit

  1. Don I says:

    What is anyone doing about it? Isn’t the Courier requesting the information? I find it odd that the mayor can get away with this without the Courier and the Democratic Committee asking questions. I believe this could be brought before City Council public during public discussion.

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