City audit reveals millions in discrepancies

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – All the city buildings that dot Richmond’s skyline and mark the services of city government point now to one additional thing—bad record keeping.The City Auditor, Umesh Dalal, said that when you look at the values for these buildings and the 700 others throughout Richmond, the numbers just don’t add up.”The bond rating agencies may not look at this situation favorably.”He calls out bad record keeping in the city’s finance department.

“His statement is based upon his methodology, the values we had were based on the methodology,” said Byron Marshall, Chief Administrative Officer.

Dalal and his staff found a number of discrepancies over a seven-year period, from 2002 to 2009.

He said the city was boosting property assessments by millions of dollars, with no paperwork to back it up.

“It’s complicated by the fact that some of the records had been purged,” said Marshall.  “It’s also complicated by the fact that some of the records were not as well kept as they could’ve been.”

The City Auditor said that one example dates back to 2006, when a financial statement was released that showed values for buildings going from $177 million to double that amount, yet the land values actually dropped by $35 million.

The report also reveals that the staff identified some the city’s assets as “Major Building Renovation” but there were no specific addresses for those properties.

The current administration released these audit discrepancies and said they are establishing a system that helps avoid such bad recordkeeping in the future.

“We will work with the City Assessor and the Assessed value on all of the other buildings.  We discount them back to 1980 and then we’ll make any adjustments either up or down in the next audit,” said Marshall.

The City Auditor completed his 30 page report of the finance department in November 2009.

The report was just released after an outside law enforcement agency was called in to do a criminal investigation.  Investigators found no evidence of “criminal” wrongdoing.

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