Bridgeport Mayor David Smith has released the following statement in regard to the village’s unauditable financial records:
On Wednesday, May 2, 2018 the village was officially notified that the financial records were inadequate for the state to commence their biannual audit. Village officials were aware of the situation and a plan was already developed and submitted to state officials to correct this situation, by current fiscal officer Mrs. Roberta Gaffney.
Upon being elected mayor in November 2015, Fiscal Officer Agnes Hess submitted her resignation, to be effective January 29, 2016. I immediately began the search to find a qualified individual to assess and correct any deficiencies with the village’s financial records and also perform the daily duties of that position. At that same time, I personally called the Auditor of State’s office and voiced concern of the village’s financial situation, based on what I did know.
Upon taking the position, Ms. Marla Krupnik began her duties of assessing the situation, in early February. Within two weeks, Ms. Krupnik, notified myself and Village Solicitor Michael Shaheen, that the financial situation that she had discovered was more than she could handle. The three of us had numerous meetings and it was determined that an outside accounting firm would be needed to attempt to correct the situation. At the regular meeting of village council in February 2016, council was notified of the situation. Legislation wa then approved to enter into a contract with Rea & Associates. Throughout the next 14-15 months, Rae & Associates methodically combed through what information they could ascertain in the fiscal office, while also working hand in hand with both Auditor of State officials and village officials. In short, this process cost the village approximately $80,000 to have Rae & Associates amend the village’s financial records and in some cases create supportive documentation to these financial
To coincide with this issue, the village was unable to secure a regular full-time fiscal officer, due to this situation and condition of the village’s financial records. Through this process the village found qualified individuals to help when they were available from their other jobs to assist the village with performing payroll duties and paying bills. This in itself was an insurmountable task. For a period of time March 2017 – August 2017, I was writing checks manually to pay the villages bills.
The State and all village officials were notified of me doing this the entire time. All supportive documentation is present for each check written on the village’s account. Furthermore, I had asked the state numerous times for help with
the village’s financial situation to avoid being placed in any type of fiscal watch, or emergency. All actions remained public and transparent.
The village has still not been able to secure a regular fiscal officer to this date, who can focus on the Village of Bridgeport only. In October of 2017, Mrs. Roberta Gaffney, was hired to take over as fiscal officer, she also serves the Village of Adena in the same capacity, with over 20 years of experience. When Mrs. Gaffney started, she was aware of the village’s situation and also realized that all invoices and receipts would need to be entered in to the system. This was simply too much information to be entered in the time required. When the Auditor’s office contacted, Mrs. Gaffney pertaining to this most recent audit, she voluntarily advised them that these records were not ready. She also created a plan to remedy the situation and that plan was accepted by the Auditor’s Office. The release from the Auditor’s Office was a state required public notification.
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