PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth City Council has chosen to, instead of transferring money back into funds by this Friday, as requested by the Auditor of State’s Office, to have legislation to that effect prepared for the next City Council meeting.
In a recent story in the Portsmouth Daily Times, the State Auditor’s Office informed that the city funds transferred from revenue accounts at slightly less than $400,000 as a part of the city’s practice of using charge-offs, was to be returned to those accounts.
Because of the transfers, the city’s deficit, which had been cut to a projected $700,000 next year, is expected to balloon to approximately $1.5 million.
“We have been ordered by the State Auditor to reimburse certain funds,” City Solicitor Mike Jones said. “It’s not a matter of, we should do it; we need to do it; But it’s, you’re gonna do it. So this is just really following the order of the state to reimburse these funds. What they have basically said is - ‘you allocated too much funds from (to) the General Fund and (from) other funds. You now need to pay those funds back.”
City Auditor Trent Williams answered the question - “what if we don’t?” with - “It goes into next year, and if next year is $400,000, you add that to the $400,000 we already have, and next year becomes $800,000.”
First Ward Councilman Kevin Johnson questioned the time line.
“As far as responding to the state, however, when were you told that it has to be by next Friday?” Johnson said.
Williams said he was informed of the demand Monday.
“I’m sorry, they have their process, we have ours,” Johnson said. “I approach this two ways - one, that we request the City Solicitor to prepare this legislation for our next regularly scheduled meeting. And please advise (State Auditor) David Yost that we have, Council has, it’s process. We meet every two weeks. We have requested our counsel to develop, and I am sure we will expedite it - we can’t guarantee - but I’m sure that we shall so and move forward with this, but we will use our process.”
Johnson then moved to have it come up at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting, and that motion passed 4-0.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org