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City financial reporting poor

April 14, 2012
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To the editor:

Last week I heard the acting City Manager say written answers would be provided to the two questions I posed at the last Council meeting. Namely, "Why did it take six months rather than the two months provided by State law after the close of the 2011 fiscal year to discover $11.2 million of new money available for the 2012 Budget". and was that amount all inclusive or was there more money available that the council and public do not know about. yet to be declared at some future date? Will that answer be provided for the public?

Another problem I see is the city's planned use of surplus S&W and Stormwater money being used to buy land which will be used for General City purposes including new parks and fire stations. I ask is that not illegal under State Law? An opinion by the State Attorney General #83-64 declared that surplus Enterprise monies be placed into an escrow account and returned to the ratepayers as lower rates.

And finally, please tell the public why the last budget amendment misled the public by saying we were reducing Revenues and Expenditures by $3.4 million when, in reality, the amendment was increasing total expenditures from $280 million to $290 million? That so-called reduction was actually a massive reduction in "Transfers" or the movement of money within a fund or from one fund to another fund and has nothing to do with the actual total amount of money available for spending or being spent. It is time that the city stops deceiving the public by the use of such Transfers to hide what is really increases in spending. The State AG opinion said: "Thus, it is my opinion that revenue received by the state and each taxing unit refers to revenue received from external sources and does not refer to any internal transfer of funds."

Creating financial transparency is my primary objective in bringing these issues forward. It is critical for the City Council, city employees, and taxpayers to know exactly how much money is available. Finding an extra $11.2 million, six months after the formation of our budget or using excess S&W and stormwater cash inappropriately, or providing misleading financial reports to hide increased spending is all unacceptable.

Sal Grosso

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Former FAC Member, Cape Coral



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