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Show Me the Money!

11/3/2020 - Marla Ailor FCoHC Vice President When Councilman Troy Patton asserted a claim that certain contracts and obligations (having to do with Westfield’s Grand Park Sports Campus) weren’t being appropriately fulfilled during a July 13, 2020 City Council meeting, administration vigorously defended their position that no impropriety had taken place. As previously reported, there were a number of agreements in place between BullPen Tournaments (BPT) and the City of Westfield, generally speaking, which were deficient in clarity and unavailable for both Council and public consumption. Almost every news publication serving Hamilton County wrote an article about that meeting, but it was IBJ who used the following quote, ““If you believe funds are being misappropriated, I would suggest we need to have a full-blown audit and we need to figure out what is going on,” Cook said to Patton during the meeting.”” While an independent review is now underway, the Indiana State Board of Accounts beat the other auditors to the punch.

Having recently completed its 2018 audit and exit conference for the City of Westfield, the State Board of Accounts (SBOA) used three-and-a-half pages each in its reports to the Common Council, Board of Public Works, and the Redevelopment Commission to detail their findings on an “informal agreement” “to have BPT perform maintenance in lieu of paying the collections designated in the agreement.” Collections from admissions, parking fees, and merchandise stopped at the end of 2017. As noted in the SBOA’s Audit Report, the only collections remitted in 2018, 2019, and 2020 from BPT were for electricity and indoor leasing fees.

From the Supplemental Compliance Report it seems the Indiana SBOA would more likely agree with Patton than the administration when they stated,

“None of the parties to the proposal have signed the proposal. There was not any discussion of this informal agreement or proposal in the minutes of the Common Council, Board of Public Works, Redevelopment Commission, or Redevelopment Commission Authority.

We find no authority for the change to the terms of these agreements without the formal approval of a legislative board with authority to contract.”

Taxpayers and Council should demand the administration, (much like Cuba Gooding Jr. did in Jerry McGuire) “Show me (us) the money!” It would be nice to know how much revenue the Grand Park Sports Campus missed out on in the years since the collections stopped, but even the SBOA couldn’t assign a number to it because,

Documentation regarding admissions, merchandise sales, and parking revenues received by BPT was not provided, so we could not determine the dollar amount of revenues that should have been remitted to the City for 2018 through 2019.”

The report prompted Council President Joe Edwards to write in response that it was a lack of oversight that led to an “internal control deficiency.” The fact that Westfield’s Redevelopment Commission “ceded its authority” to Mayor Andy Cook and his Chief of Staff as Edwards wrote, was what led the City Council and its Finance Committee to cry, “foul” in the first place. Resolution 20-131 was constructed to give “citizen oversight” back to the common council according to Edwards. As such, all previous contracts are coming to an end this December. Requests for proposals have already been issued though there has been no word-to-date on estimates received.

The 2019 Audit and Corrective Actions Plan (should any be needed) are due out in December, so only time will tell if the administration comes around with an admission of any wrongdoing.

The Fiscal Conservatives of Hamilton County is an multi-partisan organization of Hamilton County, Indiana residents who are volunteers focused on fiscal policy and fiscal issues. It is free of outside control by any individual, organization or group. It exists to distribute opinions on issues affecting Hamilton County residents. Opinions expressed in signed articles do not necessarily represent the views of all members of the FCoHC or its board members.

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