This city recently disclosed a $3 million "accounting error" that has occurred over the past four years. City officials would like us to believe it’s no big deal.
I am a retired CPA and retired county auditor, and get infuriated when I hear the mayor and other city officials speak of "accounting errors."
Leigh Griffing, the finance director, stated that the problem, which wasn’t discovered for four years, was "an elusive and complicated error" (Dec. 17, Missoula Current). This is nonsense; governmental accounting rules are straightforward. Accounting errors occur when figures are transposed or entered into the wrong column. Dereliction of duty occurs when no one is responsible for or takes responsibility for financial incompetence.
In every organization I know of, a monthly financial statement presents budgeted versus actual revenue and expenditure figures. This statement should be reviewed by department heads, the accounting and financial managers and the mayor and council.
That the mayor and managers are so flippant about the problem and would attempt to diminish the seriousness of the lack of oversight and accountability is maddening.