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Monday, December 22, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,

Alissa Scott/Recorder staff Deputy Controller David Mitchell works to complete the annual update document for the city of Amsterdam Friday, a document that is now almost 10 months late.

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City financial report nearly 10 months late

Saturday, July 20, 2013 - Updated: 4:08 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

Recorder News Staff

Accounting documents requested annually from the city of Amsterdam by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board are nearing 10 months late from its October deadline.

Former controller Ronald Wierzbicki, who died in office, left the city without a replacement. In the meantime, David Mitchell has filled in as deputy controller.

Mitchell said because of the unexpected transition from Wierzbicki to himself, the office's filing of the Annual Update Document has been halted severely.

Essentially, an AUD is requested by the state from all municipalities, asking they gather financial records from the past fiscal year.

Before Wierzbicki died, he had not completed the paperwork for 2011-12. Mitchell has been working to pick up where he left off for the past nine months.

Mitchell told the Common Council Tuesday night the document had at least 60 errors that were identified by the state. The documents consist of several charts citing account numbers and data, but some of the accounts have not been recognized by GASB, causing the errors.

Dave Dybas, 3rd Ward Alderman, said "a mess" is far from the phrase to describe the state the accounting department was in, and it wasn't only because of the transition between controllers.

Dybas, who said he is of an accounting background, said when the city adopted KVS System in July of 2011, a new accounting program to keep track of finances, it wasn't set up properly and created additional problems.

"There were no parallel closings or runs made," Dybas said. "What does that mean? They didn't take the brand-new system, put in all the balances that should have been there and then proceed to close books or operate the system in parallel with the old system.

"It was like they turned the old system off and the new system came on. From what I understand, it wasn't built quite properly."

If it was set up properly, Dybas said, it would have been extremely beneficial to the city. Originally, he said he had thought the system could have "really done a lot."

Dybas said, as of now, the system and finances have gotten much better and Mitchell, who "inherited all that mess," has been doing a great job.

"It was a long, tough road, even for Mr. Wierzbicki when he came," Dybas said. "He had no clue as to what was done, again, not his fault. He [won] the election and stepped into a hornet's nest, there's no other way to put it and it just languished, languished, languished. Then, finally David came along and has really brought it a long, long way."

Working on his own, "because everyone else has other work they need to be doing," he predicted he will have fixed almost 30 errors by the end of the week, or at least by the end of August, the time frame he gave the council Tuesday night.

The rest, he said, should be completed by next week and will be sent to GASB.

Though the AUD could soon bump into the deadline of the next fiscal year's, Mitchell said it hasn't caused any problems yet.

"Right now, it hasn't held up anything," Mitchell said. "But that's not to say it won't in the future."

What it could hold up, he said he doesn't know. He does know, however, that the city will be "fine."

"We're not going to be like Detroit," Mitchell said. "They just filed bankruptcy ... We'll get through it."

Dybas said in the future, he hopes to see more of the city's finances in writing.

"I haven't seen any, zero, official financial reports since I came on the council on January 1, 2012," Dybas said. "And here we are, almost into August 2013. I've seen no published financial reports ... Mess doesn't even come close to what's there, or what was there. Let's put it in the past tense, because it is being straightened out."

Mitchell said the 2012-2013 AUD, which is due October 31, is on track to meet the deadline.

This is the only time, to Mitchell's knowledge, there has been such a hold-up.

     

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