Citizens For A Better Norwood

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bessie’s COW Report for June

The 6/5/07 COW meeting kicked off with Chairperson John Mumper’s stunning announcement that he had just learned from Auditor of State official Dave Thompson that City Auditor Donnie Jones had missed the 5/31/07 deadline for submitting the 2006 GAP report. Fiscal Watch will stay in effect until this report is filed and reviewed by the AOS (see 6/3/07 “Fiscal Watch Watch“ blog.) According to Mr. Thompson, since Mr. Jones did not file for an extension, the state can apply penalties.

(Penalties? Horrors, just what we don’t need, more penalites! But it turns out they’re not as bad as some the City has suffered through. The AOS official I called a few days ago told me that if penalties are applied for Mr. Jones’ lateness, they will be in the neighborhood of $5.00 per day with a cap of $750. Not good, but not horrific, either, if the state decides to charge.)

Mr. Mumper said that he had also talked with Norwood’s Deputy Auditor and was told nothing had been done yet on the GAP report. In view of this, Mr. Mumper stated that it looks like it will be awhile before Fiscal Watch is over, which could hold up some development and several other things. He encouraged his fellow council members to encourage Mr. Jones to issue the report.

There was discussion about whether to pay an outside accounting firm to do the GAP report, which Mr. Jones had mentioned as a possibility to Mr. Thompson. Councilperson Moore opined that finding such a firm wouldn’t require a nationwide search and that at least a quote for the job could be obtained locally.

(Norwood, a city still officially in Fiscal Watch, pay an outside firm to do what we pay an elected official to do? Horrors, just what don’t need, more unnecessary expenses! It turns out this expense could be just as bad as you might imagine. I suspect if the $50,000 quote I got is anywhere near the ballpark, this particular option is surely off the table. Why, that's more than Mr. Jones' salary for his city position! My source at the AOS did say, however, that it is not unusual for municipalities to contract for GAP reports.)

Mayor Williams, who was sitting next to Chairperson Mumper, looked rather somber, I thought, throughout the discussion about Mr. Jones’ delinquent report. He stated that the situation has caused a lot of frustration. Mr. Thompson told him that the City Auditor had asked him if the state could do the report. They could, of course, but they would charge for it. The mayor added that the free AOS technical services are over until they receive the GAP report.

Other agenda items that were covered:

1. City newspaper - Mr. Mumper stated that he forgot to ask the clerk of council secretary to send notices to department heads to find out what they would want in a city newsletter.

2. Red light cameras - Mr. Sanker said that there’s some state legislation in the works, so nothing should be done toward purchasing cameras until after it’s enacted.

3. Front porches - Instead of the City going through the involved process of designating historical areas, the Building Department’s Dan Blye will post general guidelines/suggestions residents can review when they come into the department for permits.