Todd Mourning spoke first saying that he was behind the audit if
there is an indication of impropriety. He also said that he would
approve having a committee including City Administrator Clay Johnson
and Treasurer Chuck Conzo sitting in review of the audit.
Conzo spoke saying that it was time to do the audit, and he would
encourage the council to approve the motion. He commented, “When you
all voted to essentially create this organization, it didn’t work
out very well, and it created a big mess that has got to be undone.
I think this is the first step toward undoing that. I would also say
I find it curious that the former mayor was real concerned about the
city spending money on the audit, but he wasn’t concerned about
giving them (LCA) $60,000. Just weigh that for what it is worth.”
Mourning commented again saying that he too was concerned about
spending the extra money. He noted, “If they are willing to open
their books and be forthcoming on all levels with that audit, can we
justify spending potentially thousands of dollars. Can we justify
re-inventing the wheel.”
Michelle Bauer commented that she wondered if they were requesting
an audit for problems the city doesn’t know exists. She said the
city may request the records of the Alliance, and that they should.
Then upon review, if they feel there are unanswered questions, then
yes by all means request another audit.
Rick Hoefle said that what he hears from his constituents is that
everything about the LCA is baffling and confusing. He said, “The
city, on the whole, is not going to care if we spend the money, they
are going to be enraged if we don’t.”
Tracy Welch said that it was a concern that the same person was
doing all the bookwork for all three organizations. He wasn’t sure
how the city could separate the entities in question from the whole,
when the books are all being done by one person.
Kathy Horn noted that she is hearing from many people that the
constituents want the audit. She noted that the council had asked
for information and did not get it. She said that the LCA had “put
the cloud over this.”
Mourning said he wasn’t in agreement with that statement because he
recalled seeing financial reports. Tibbs said that was not so; they
never brought the information, and she noted they didn’t even show
up when they were asked to report.
Bauer noted that the LCA and Tourism are required to provide
information by April 1st. She said April 1st wasn’t here yet, so
they were still within their contracts. Horn suggested that the
council vote to request the audit but hold off until April 1st to
see what the LCA and Tourism bring to them, before moving on with
Tibbs said no. She said she had no problem with spending city
dollars to audit these organizations and that the taxpayers expect
the council to find out what is going on. She added, “We’re not
saying anyone is guilty, in a way.”
Neitzel asked if the council felt the LCA and Tourism should be
given until April 1st to produce records before moving forward with
the audit. Mourning said he felt that the audit was a lot of money
to spend if it isn’t needed.
Bauer said on the agenda was the authorization for the city to
request that the LCA and Tourism Bureau to submit to an audit. She
said that she had no problem moving forward if that April 1st report
raises questions, but at the moment, she cannot justify ordering an
audit that may not be needed.
Alderman Hoefle said that the information the LCA will provide may
not give a detailed accounting of how money was spent, and that is
why the audit is needed. Bauer said the council didn’t know that yet
because they haven’t seen what the LCA and Tourism will present in
Welch said the council could move forward with the question to the
LCA. He said, “We have to ask the question and give them the
opportunity to respond.” He indicated that if the LCA then says
‘no,' the city will need to determine how to move forward.
[to top of second column]
Conzo agreed with Welch saying that the council needed to vote to
formally ask the question, even though O’Donohue had indicated they
would say ‘yes’ to some and ‘no’ to other portions of the audit.
Conzo indicated it needed to be a matter of record that the council
had “asked” for the third party audits.
The question also came as to how the city would pay for the audit. Conzo said
there was still $5,000 to $6,000 remaining in the economic development line of
the budget. The money was tagged to go to the LCA, but since the LCA has broken
the contract, that money will not be issued. That line item could partially
cover the audit. He also noted that it is budget building time for the city, and
the additional cost of the audit could be built into the new budget year.
Mourning moved on saying that he thought the LCA had made a smart decision in
offering Leslie Hoefle a place on the board. He commented that she did have a
genuine concern for the community. But, he wondered what position her membership
on the board would put her husband Rick Hoefle in as Ward 4 Alderman; would it
be a conflict of interest for the latter?
Hoefle said that at the moment Leslie Hoefle has not accepted any position, and
he didn’t know that she would.
Tibbs said that the offer should not preclude Hoefle from voting on this night.
Mourning agreed, but said he was wondering about the future, if Leslie Hoefle
did join the board, and a vote came before the city regarding the LCA, would
there be a conflict of interest if Rick Hoefle voted?
Welch said the same question could be posed to Bauer, and though he doesn’t
vote, also to Johnson, because both are members of the Chamber’s Young
Professionals Network. Bauer also noted that the question comes up with Steve
Parrott as well, because he is a member of the Tourism Council. Bauer also noted
that the city is no longer involved in an agreement with the LCA, so maybe this
wasn’t an issue at all.
Hoefle also commented that O’Donohue and Snyder had already said the LCA would
agree to an audit of the Economic Development program, so that really didn’t
need a vote; so there was no conflict.
At the end of this exchange, the consensus was that the aldermen at hand didn’t
have the answer to the conflict of interest questions. It was suggested that the
full scenario should be discussed with city attorney Blinn Bates, to determine
if the conflict exists for any of these people, and if so how it should be
addressed when voting.
Neitzel brought the discussion to a close and called for the vote. Roll call was
taken by city clerk Susan Gehlbach. Seven members of the council were present,
with Steve Parrott being absent for the evening.
In the roll call, five voted in favor of the audit. They were Hoefle, Welch,
Horn, Tibbs, and Jeff Hoinacki. Bauer and Mourning voted in opposition of the
audit. The motion, therefore, passed 5-2.
City of Lincoln: Vote to
request independent audits of Logan County Alliance and Tourism
Bureau passes 5-2