Wednesday, December 19, 2012

City Council in Brief

From the  Dec. 18 meeting

Council ok’s audit firm
After much discussion, Council voted 5 to 1 to hire accounting firm Magnuson, McHugh & Company to perform audit services for the city. The firm has contracted with the city since 1999, including the years when a former employee embezzled money. Council wanted to know the difference between a forensic audit and the audit performed, why the firm didn’t catch the fraud and why the city should rehire the firm. It also wanted a detailed report of what happened and what’s been done to prevent future fraud. An independent review was also brought up. City Finance Director Troy Tymeson and a representative from the accounting firm addressed the issues and fielded questions. The difference between a forensic audit and the financial statement audit conducted? The audit conducted is required by Idaho state statute and assures financial statements fairly capture the financial picture of a given time period. It does not look at asset theft, which is what city staff uncovered. A forensic audit is a specialized branch of auditing that is sought when there is suspicion of fraud and is not part of regular audits. As for the detailed report and possible independent review, Council agreed to wait until legal proceedings in the case are completed, which is expected to be Feb. 5 when the former employee is sentenced.

LID moves forward
Council authorized city staff to continue its efforts in forming a local improvement district along Front Avenue. It also set a public hearing on the issue for Jan. 2, at which time people will be able to comment on the LID. Any protests must be in written form and submitted at the hearing. The Council will consider those protests and other comments when it votes on whether to adopt the LID on Jan. 15. Improving Front Avenue between Second and Seventh streets is a $2.9 million project that would be partially funded by property owners (39 percent) and by the city (61 percent). Improvements include sidewalks, landscaping, trees, lighting fixtures, roadway and intersections. In approving a resolution to move forward with the process of forming an LID, Council asked city staff to bring back other options that would lower the cost to property owners.

Santa comes to town — today
This year’s visit from Santa starts today, firefighter Eric McAulif told the Council during the presentation portion of the meeting. Beginning this afternoon through Dec. 23, Santa will travel through Coeur d’Alene neighborhoods with members of the Firefighters Local 710. They’ll ride in style in a brightly lit retired fire engine the Local bought from the Fire Department. Santa and firefighters will pass out candy and collect canned food and cash donations for the local food bank. For those who missed St. Nick last year, you’ll be able to track his whereabouts thanks to the new Santa Tracker, McAulif said. Log on to the Fire Department’s website to see Santa’s schedule and his real-time location.

Public hearings
Two legislative public hearings took place. One was on the HUD 2013-2018 Consolidated Plan. The other addressed Wastewater treatment plan improvements and the filing of a petition of judicial confirmation. The hearings came at the end of the meeting and no one offered testimony. These were legislative hearings and did not require Council to take any action. 

Other updates

Council to hear McEuen design update
Dec. 27 is the 90 percent completion workshop at 7:30 a.m. at the Parkview Towers. The Design Committee will update Council on the park’s design. Design for Front Avenue also will be part of the update. The public is invited to attend, however, because this is a workshop, public comment is not allowed.

CDA lieutenant finishes elite training
Lt. Bill McLeod graduated from the FBI National Academy last week, following 10 weeks of training. The Academy is the most prestigious command school in the world. Very few police officers have the opportunity to attend the Academy.

CDA firefighters raise $20K for cause
Coeur d’Alene firefighters raised $21,768 during the annual “Fill the Boot” campaign for muscular dystrophy. That’s double what they raised last year.

City offices closed for the holiday
City Hall and most other city offices and facilities will be closed Dec. 25. Emergency calls for police, fire and streets can be made by dialing 911. Garbage pickup will also be delayed one day. Offices will reopen Dec. 26 at 8 a.m.

City gives to United Way
Between payroll deductions and golf tournament proceeds, the city donated $5,935 to local organizations through United Way.