City of Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson addressed the unauthorized use of a city account that supports emergency medical services and fire equipment in a public email Thursday.
Freeman-Wilson said that new City Controller Angelia Hayes observed discrepancies in the the account, known as the City of Gary 224 Fund. She observed that the account had not been used within the parameters of the ordinance dictating the uses of the account, and that those uses had not be approved by the Gary Common Council.
“At the same time, a significant portion of the expenditures were for legitimate city expenses such as salaries, the Genesis Convention Center, up-front dollars needed for demolition, and equipment purchases,” Freeman-Wilson wrote.
Freeman-Wilson included a link to the full report in the email she sent out, and said copies of the reports are at the Gary Public Library and can be viewed on www.garyin.us, the city website.. An in-person town hall meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Art House: A Social Kitchen, located at 411 E. 5th Avenue in Gary. The meeting will also be streamed live on the Team Gary Indiana Facebook page.
A Facebook live discussion was scheduled for Thursday but was postponed due to death in City Council President's Ronald Brewer Sr.'s family.
Whittaker Company PLLC analyzed withdrawals on the bank account between January 1, 2015 to March 31, 2018, and they looked into $8,160,403.37 of transfers from Fund 224. The company included wire transfer records, deposit balance sheets, city receipts and check deposit forms in the report. The report noted that the majority, 55 percent, of the transfers went into the Gary Fifth Third Payroll account to pay payroll expenses.
The company recommended the city open a new Fund 224 checking account and the old account should be closed. They also recommended that all transactions should be recorded with the RDS accounting system and that all future transactions be approved by the Gary City Council.
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“It should be noted that it is not customary for the Mayor or Council President to view bank account balances,” Freeman-Wilson wrote. “City officials should be able to rely on the City Controller, however, when there is an occurrence that deviates from the process, we think it is important that we provide a greater level of scrutiny. While I was not aware of any of the irregularities regarding the 224 fund, I understand that the 'buck stops here' and it is my intent to ensure that measures are being implemented and adhered to make sure this does not happen again.”
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