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Denver agencies aren’t following ‘fiscal accountability rules’ city auditor says

Author: Adam McCoy - February 1, 2018 - Updated: February 1, 2018

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Denver agencies could do a better job of adhering to “fiscal accountability rules” in collecting revenue, a recent audit found.

City Auditor Timothy O’Brien’s ordered the audit of the city’s four largest agencies’ books — including the Department of Economic Development, Community Planning and Development, the Denver Public Library and the Department of Public Works’ Right-of-Way Enforcement Division.

The audit essentially looked for accurate record-keeping of receivables. The Department of Economic Development was the only office correctly reporting its receivables and following fiscal rules.

“When we take a close look at the city’s books, we can help agencies improve their use of taxpayers’ money,” O’Brien said in a statement.

In the audit report, O’Brien’s office pointed to the library not properly reporting payments for fees or fines less than $25. The auditor said those fees were “deemed to be uncollectible when assessed and are only reported as revenue when and if they are collected” by the library. Furthermore, the audit found circulation desk clerks were allowed to waive fees without any approval required.

“This could allow friends and family to indefinitely forego paying fines and fees or an employee could pocket cash and then write off the balance,” O’Brien’s office said in a statement.

According to the auditor’s office, the library noted it relies on staff to use their informed judgement when waiving fines, and the fees are meant to motivate customers to return items and keep accounts open. The auditor also found library staff share system login information which could put them at heightened risk for fraud.

The audit report also found the city could do a better job of ensuring third-party contractor financial information is reliable. Third-party vendors, like the contractor that works with parking the enforcement division to issue parking tickets, often make recommendations on receivables to be written off, but reports are frequently not collected, the audit said.

“In order to maximize revenues for the city, it’s important to ensure all receivables are collected reliably,” the auditor’s office said.

City agencies have agreed to audit recommendations, according to O’Brien’s office. The library said it will consider doing away with late fees and instead focus on collecting fines to replace lost items.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.