Convention Authority bills keep coming

While the members of the Warren Convention Center Authority resigned last year, rendering the Authority inactive, the city isn’t done paying for it.

Council approved a letter of understanding with the auditing firm Kersey & Associates for a 2012 audit of the Authority’s books during Monday’s council meeting.

When the Authority members resigned, council, at last October’s meeting, accepted responsibility for the authority’s debts, totaling approximately $9,600, accepted the resignation of the authority’s three members and enabled the city manager to discontinue the authority’s insurance policy.

Finance Director Donna Risinger informed council on Monday that council’s action in October included accepting the audit. She said that the gross fee for the audit is not to exceed $2,500. Kersey & Associates “have provided this service for prior years,” Risinger added, indicating that she anticipated that this is the final year an audit will be required for the WCCA.

Councilman John Lewis noted that the Authority had as few as five transactions in 2012 but “we’re having an audit that is going to cost us $2,500. (I) think we should find a second CPA (certified public accountant.)”

“I had the same concern,” Councilman Joe Sprentz said. He explained that he re-read the letter and noted that it said “not to exceed $2,500” and “hopes it comes in less.” He said that the cost also includes filing a report with the state Department of Community and Economic Development. “It’s more than an audit per say,” he said. “I thought it was steep as well.”

Council approved the measure in a 5-1 vote with Lewis voting in opposition.

Authority members said their main purpose in not disbanding the group earlier was to try to recover funds. Without a significant funding stream, the authority relied on the generosity of the city to pay its bills. The authority received written confirmation from developer Tim King in 2012 that Warren Development Group would pay the authority about $16,000 in money owed to the city. “In our work to move forward we will provide for repayment of all funds advanced to the WCCA by the City of Warren,” King wrote.

Council acted in November of last year to explore a small claims legal filing to recoup the liabilities of the Authority.