City Council: A financial consultant is worth her price | News, Sports, Jobs
A new financial expert advice deal was approved by city council on Thursday and is already paying dividends, officials said.
Tracey Rash, who is with Government Finance Solutions, Harrisburg, will work on behalf of the city for the next 120 days or when her services reach a cap of $85,000.
Along with finding out the city owed the Internal Revenue Service $160,000 in civil penalties for unreturned 2017 tax documents, Rash told the finance committee and council she recovered $15,000 in money. unclaimed property held by the state and that she expects to receive an additional $40,000. because of the city.
Additionally, she determined that the financial reports generated by the city’s system had not been reconciled since 2019. She also had no bank accounts and was trying to reconcile them, but until they are encrypted, they might not be accurate, she warned.
She continues to meet with department heads and work on corrective action regarding Federal Emergency Management Agency grants for smoke alarms and a U.S. Department of Justice grant for protective equipment during the COVID pandemic. .
At the end of June, Joseph Pawlak, interim financial director, was fired.
Rash was hired because of her experience, including 32 years of auditing services.
His job remains to help get the city’s finances in order and then let someone else come and take it from there, Mayor Derek Slaughter told the finance committee this week.
Councilwoman Liz Miele said she was pleased to see such reconciliation of accounts and accurate numbers as the city prepares for its budget discussion in November.
Part of Rash’s job has been to work with the new River Valley Transit Authority and as the city continues to separate finances to ensure the authority’s money is accurate.
His one-month bill was $13,382.
As for the Bureau of Fire, several federal grants are over a year behind schedule.
“I was working with the chief to put the information together so I could report on these federal grants,” Rash said.
“About this, I spoke with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is one of your beneficiaries, and when I was on the phone with them, they told me that you had been chosen for surveillance, then FEMA comes out and checks. . . and there has been no response from the city, so these things are still pending,” she says.
There are few bank reconciliations carried out since December 31, 2019, “So the information in your system is not accurate, so I gave them historical data, but that’s only as good as what’s in that system right now, so we’ll work on developing budgets and also attended the pension board meeting for firefighters,” Rash said.
In terms of finances, Rash filed quarterly taxes for the second quarter, “and rummaging through stacks of paper that remained in the finance department, I found a notice from the Internal Revenue Service for the 4th quarter of 2021”, she says.
“On contacting the IRS, I was told that you actually had three outstanding issues – the biggest being that you have a notice from 2017 that you failed to file certain documents with the IRS and that you ‘they had sent you several notices, none of which were answered and that you are now in the civil penalty phase, which means that the probability of obtaining a reduction in these penalties is almost nil’, Rash said.
Rash asked the IRS to send her a transcript of the documentation so she could write a reduction letter and try on the city’s behalf to get that $160,000 penalty reduced.
Two issues have been resolved with the IRS on these appeals.
Rash also found that “You had money in what’s called unclaimed funds in Pennsylvania, so I went to the unclaimed funds website. I have withdrawn your money from these entities,” she says.
“I answered questions from department heads and vendors, rummaged through several piles of open and unopened envelopes and invoices lying around,” she says.
Rash filed numerous documents, met with the RVTA regarding their cash reconciliations, met with Human Resources and several people regarding pension, military buyout and retirement calculations.
She noted that the 2017 city audit has not been completed. She meets with several people remotely regarding cash management and works with M&T Bank to switch all city accounts to the appropriate names.
“I also worked on developing a procurement policy for more policy for the city and met with software vendors for your accounting system as it is significantly outdated,” she says.
Several reports are not available for the city in the current system, so Rash provided comments on these accounting systems.
We still have to do the pension calculations and the military buy-back calculations and the drop calculations.
Rash reviews previous audits, completes budget spreadsheets for non-general funds, and then continues to dig through the stacks of paper that remain in finance.