Portage passes state audit with few concerns

2013-12-15T18:30:00Z 2013-12-16T08:52:07Z Portage passes state audit with few concernsJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The State Board of Account's audit of the city's 2012 books showed a few issues that have already been addressed.

While the audit was completed in June, it was just released last week by the state.

Most of the issues concerned record keeping and paperwork involving federal grants, bank reconciliation and lease payments of a city-owned building.

The audit called the city for a lack of reconciliation between bank accounts and the city's financial records since April 30, 2011. According to the audit, a "cursory bank reconcilement" identified a cash shortage of just under $60,000.

Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham said the issue has been a concern for his office since he took the post in 2012, but he disputes the shortage cited by the state, saying it is much less and that it is not a matter of missing money, but a lack of reconciliation of records.

"I don't know the amount for sure, but in April 2011, the reconciliations between the books and the banks stopped. We spent most of 2012 trying to figure it out," said Stidham, adding they hired financial consultant Cender and Co. to reconcile the books.

"The state board of accounts didn't accept their findings," he said, adding his office is continuing to work on the past reconciliation issues and has put steps in place to ensure the computerized financial records agree with bank balances in the future.

The audit cited the city for a lack of record keeping involving two federal grants, including one involving fire department equipment and the other involving a utility department grant.

Stidham said in both cases, those were oversights by the city departments involved.

"We were suppose to keep records we didn't know we were suppose to keep so we didn't do it. That was an easy fix," he said.

The third issue involved the lease payments for the building owned by the city's Redevelopment Commission that houses the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and Northwest Indiana Forum offices.

"We pay a trust account and the trust pays the bond company," explained Stidham. The cited lapse involved the city not recording the payments to the bond holder. That too, said Stidham, has been corrected.

Overall, Stidham said his office was pleased with the state's audit of the 2012 books.

"It showed, on the whole, that we are doing well," he said.

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About Portage

City Hall
6070 W. Central Ave. Portage, IN 46368
(219) 762-5425

Police Department
2693 Irving Street Portage, IN 46368
(219) 762-3122

Fire Department
3401 Swanson Rd Portage, IN 46368
(219) 762-7404

Portage Township Schools Administration Center
6240 U.S. Highway 6 Portage, IN 46368
(219) 762-6511

Porter County Public Library
2665 Irving Street Portage, IN 46368
(219) 763-1508