F.C. Council Berates City Staff for Lack of Warning on Audit Snafu

Strong words from Falls Church Council member Johannah Barry, seconded by Mayor Nader Baroukh, chastised top-level members of the F.C. City staff at a work session in City Hall tonight for failing to give advance warning to the Council about problems that arose from the City’s failure to properly notify the state’s Auditor of Public Accounts, as reported in the News-Press and other newspapers last Saturday.

“I never want to have a situation arise again where I learn about something like this from reading a newspaper,” Barry said. “We were caught unaware, and it makes the City look bad.”

Barry referred to the report that the City had not filed its annual financial audit report to the state agency by the November 2010 deadline, and that the head of the state agency said he’d heard nothing from the City explaining why its report was delayed.

In fact, according to the City’s new director of finance, Richard La Condre, the City had been in regular touch with the agency, with at least four telephone conversations since early December, but that La Condre, new to his job, was not aware that unless there was a formal letter addressed to the agency, then there was nothing in its system to show that contact had been made. La Condre said that has been corrected, and a memo to the Council explaining everything would be provided by tomorrow.

He confirmed what City Manager Wyatt Shields told the News-Press in a phone interview Sunday, that while the financial numbers were ready for reporting, there were outstanding issues about how to report pending, uncertain factors impacting on the City’s financial condition going forward, including legal claims by Fairfax County users of the City’s water system, and a new, unexpected bill for $2 million from Arlington County for the City’s share of costs for the Arlington Detention Center.