Unexpected bills stirred lengthy discussion and friction between auditor Katie Hensel and safety-services director Steve Hume at the Thursday, May 1 London City Council meeting.
Council members questioned auditor’s warrants for a total of $10,940 in bills for recreation department projects and grant-writing services.
It wasn’t the first time council members debated expenses that were not pre-authorized. Unanticipated bills for machinery repairs, basketball shirts and pool supplies sparked a firestorm of controversy in recent months.
On Thursday, it was a $1,750 bill from the city school district for gym rental; $1,190 from O-Den Skills Academy for a share of 2013 basketball camp proceeds and $8,000 from Michael Secoy & Associates for a grant application that caused tempers to flare.
Hensel said recreation director Ben McCoy didn’t set money aside in advance of the gym rental and basketball camp. And, she failed to receive a signed contract for the basketball camp.
As a result, monies were not “encumbered.” And Hensel was unauthorized to pay the bills without council approval of an auditor’s warrant.
Hume said Hensel’s procedures differ from those of previous auditors. He said some expenses are difficult to estimate in advance.
“I’ve been doing it for 14 years without a problem,” he said.
Hume argued previous auditors requested purchase orders and set-asides before bills arrived. Hensel said requests must come before a service is rendered or a product is received.
“There seems to be a difference between you and the auditor,” council member Dick Minner told Hume.
Council member Steve Scaggs asked for an explanation, noting McCoy’s absence from the meeting.
“We’ve made it clear we wanted department heads here to explain auditor’s warrants,” Scaggs said. “Why are we having this problem over and over again? How many auditor’s warrants have we had in the last two years?”
Hume said he will provide a list of all recent warrants by the May 17 council meeting.
In the end, council agreed to pay bills from Secoy and London schools. They postponed payment to O-Den Skills Academy until Hensel receives a signed contract.
In other meeting business on Thursday, council:
• Scheduled a June 5 public meeting for a resolution to replace five traffic lights in the city with two-way stop signs.
• Approved crosswalks, pedestrian signals, walking paths and other improvements designated through the “Safe Route To School” federal grant.
• Adopted the “2012 Madison County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation 5-Year Plan Update” at the request of Roger Roberts, director of the county’s emergency management agency.
• Agreed to spend $10,000 for a new mower.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.