The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

December 28, 2013

Audit critiques Elwood

State questions expenditures of Mayor Ron Arnold

ELWOOD — An audit by the Indiana State Board of Accounts cited numerous problems with the City of Elwood’s bookkeeping procedures.

The audit by the state, released Monday, was critical of travel expenses by Mayor Ron Arnold to Japan, employee compensation and the lack of supporting documentation for claims.

The audit noted that on Dec. 27, 2012, the city gave the Elwood Community Development Corp. a $7,000 cash advance to pay for a business trip by Arnold to Japan to seek economic development leads. Arnold provided travel expenses for himself and a marketing consultant in the amount of $7,543.

“However, numerous items that appeared on the travel expense reports were not reimbursable according to the travel policy or were not supported by original receipts,” the report stated.

The report said items not included in the travel policy was $257 for Arnold for various personal care items, laundry and Internet service and $235 for the consultant for Internet and laundry.

It also said no supporting documentation was submitted for expenditures by Arnold amounting to $2,227 for meals, transportation, tips, post-trip meeting expenses and data charges.

Arnold wrote in a response letter that the Elwood Board of Works reviewed and approved the Japan trip expenses, including all receipted and non-receipted expenses.

The audit found an employee received “paid time off” that was not authorized by salary ordinance or resolution.

“During 2012, the Mayor’s office was closed for reasons other than adopted holidays, on May 1, July 2, July 3, July 5, July 6, Dec. 27 and Dec. 28,” the audit states. “The employee did not work on those days and received full payment without using any leave time.”

The State Board of Accounts said the seven days off in 2012 amounted to $637.

In the response letter, Arnold said the employee was repaying the money to the city.

The state audit found monthly invoices for payment of contractual services from Master Productions/Jeff Howe (the city’s public relations firm) and Alan Moore LLC contained the same language on each claim. It said Master Productions was paid $30,250 and Alan Moore was paid $48,345.

A council member was reimbursed for travel expenses based on a personal credit card statement in the amount of $1,705, not supported by itemized expenditures.

There was no response provided to the State Board of Accounts from the city concerning Master Productions or the reimbursement to the council member.

City attorney Jim Wilson wrote that Moore has provided Elwood with services on several projects.

Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.

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