Report: Parks Commission late with electric bill payments

June 3, 2013 10:02:10 AM

Carl Smith - csmith@cdispatch.com

 

Documents associated with an upcoming financial report state procedural gaps in Starkville Parks Commission's electric bill payments exist and accounts are shown beyond the 45-day legal payment window. 

 

The autonomous entity owes Starkville Electric Department more than $103,000 as of May 23, documents found within Tuesday's Starkville Board of Aldermen e-packet state, and SPC is estimated to owe $180,000 for overdue fees and forecasted usage through the fiscal year. 

 

That bill, the department's exhausted Fiscal Year 2013 2 percent food and beverage budget and allegations of overdue payments will be covered in Starkville City Clerk Taylor Adams' financial report Tuesday at City hall. 

 

The board of aldermen tasked Adams with delivering the report during the city's previous meeting, a move which Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins called politically motivated due to Tuesday's mayoral election between incumbent Parker Wiseman and SPC Chairman Dan Moreland. Aldermen deadlocked 3-3 on the issue, and Wiseman broke the tie with an affirmative vote. 

 

Adams report will also include information from SPC's FY 2012 audit, which has drawn considerable criticism from sitting Democrats. 

 

In the previous May 21 meeting, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas identified several new SPC budgetary issues, alleged the organization maintained overdue electric bills and failed to meet state-mandated 45-day payment windows for invoices. Dumas referenced the overdue electric bills when asking if the city needs to implement more-stringent controls to keep future SPC financial issues from emerging. 

 

Online documents state SPC owes SED $103,799.28 as of the end of May and is expected to owe $178,999.28 in order to satisfy current past-due bills and expected costs through Sept. 30. The bill reflects overdue accounts of approximately five months, documents state, which "agree with statements by Commissioner Moreland dated (Dec. 6) relating to utilities funding needs." 

 

As of Saturday, SPC's FY 2013 operational budget is $281,466.68, documents state. 

 

During SPC's April audit meeting, Moreland blamed former Starkville Parks Director Matthew Rye for the department's issues with its electric bills. Increased statements reflect increased park usage, he said. 

 

Rye resigned from his post in July, the same month SPC named then-sports coordinator Herman Peters as his interim successor. Peters would go on to assume the job on a full-time basis. 

 

"Our main problem with money .. .is utilities. This last budget when Matthew did it ... he did not put enough money in there for utilities," Moreland said in April. "The more you use (Parks facilities), the more the utilities bill is going to be. Herman, that's something we need to do every year: increase that utility bill (budget) as long as the sports are increasing and the usage of the parks is increasing." 

 

Adams' report is also expected to examine SPC's FY 2013 parks improvement budget. The Dispatch confirmed in late May that the revenue stream - an annual allotment of $180,000 funded by the city's 2 percent food and beverage tax - had $12.35 remaining for the fiscal year. 

 

"In the current fiscal year ... roughly $120,000 of those dollars was extended at the beginning of the period, i.e. within the first quarter. This left the park with approximately $60,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year," documents state. 

 

Documents requested by the Dispatch show that budget was primarily affected by two 2012 payments for the commission's J.L. King Splash Pad construction bill. Those payments were made to Couvillion Design+Build and totaled $118,593.28. A previous Freedom of Information Act request provided documents which stated SPC was to designate $210,000 -- $120,000 from the FY 2012 2 percent budget set aside by the city, $50,000 from a Coca-Cola donation and $40,000 from the Parks' FY 2013 2-percent stream - for the project, but SPC hit the end of its one-time city allotment on Sept. 27. 

 

Watkins, Ward and Stafford's FY 2012 Parks audit revealed three anomalies: two splash-pad related issues and the fact that SPC had budget overages on numerous line items. Sufficient funds were available to cover the overages, CPA Randy Scrivner told SPC members in April, but appropriate amendments were not recorded in the board's minutes as approved. 

 

Scrivner suggested in April that SPC produce quarterly utility reports since electricity usage varies with seasonal sports and activities, and Moreland said he would work with Peters to develop that and other policies recommended by the audit. 

 

 

 

READ MORE: Documents associated with the SPC budgetary analysis can be found at cityofstarkville.org/DocumentCenter/View/1457 

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch