Question #3 for David Cicilline on the Category 5 That’s Hit Providence
The next question involves some nuts-and-bolts at the accounting level. Congressman David Cicilline, in his interviews with both Scott MacKay of WRNI (1290AM) and Alisha Pina of the Projo is now saying that his administration did spend a portion of the City of Providence’s reserves to help balance the FY2010 budget. (This is a change in the Mayor’s position on the use of the reserves and will be addressed in the final question).
What is casually being referred to as the “reserves” by Congressman Cicilline is actually comprised of at least two separate accounts, the “reserve contingency funds cash account” and the “capital assets account”, two of the accounts that were prime subjects of Providence City Auditor James Lombardi’s October report. According to the City Auditor, both of these accounts had been substantially depleted over the course of Fiscal year 2010. The reserve contingency funds cash account reached the point of being overdrawn and the capital assets account had its balance reduced from $22.3 million to $4.7 million.
Here are the real nuts-and-bolts: the “capital proceeds fund” column of the “combining balance sheet” of the “nonmajor governmental funds” page of the Comprehensive Financial Report for Providence for FY2010 contains a set of numbers that appear to match Auditor Lombardi’s description of (and concern about) the capital assets account. Furthermore, it is obvious from tracking this fund across the 4 years of comprehensive reports available on the City of Providence website that a substantial change in the management and utilization of this fund occurred in FY2010:
|Year||Asset: Cash and|
|Asset: Due from|
|Total Assets||Liability: Due to|
(Source: Combining Balance Sheets for Nonmajor Government Funds from the City of Providence, Rhode Island, Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, 2007-2010.)
The questions these numbers raise, in this case questions that can be answered either by members of the former Cicilline administration or the current Tavares administration, are…
- Was the $17.6 million withdrawn from the capital proceeds fund simply transferred to the general fund, or spent on something specific?
- Given that $17.6 million was withdrawn from the fund, should anyone be worried that the reported liability “due to other funds” increased instead of decreased?
- What source is supposed to be providing the money “due from other funds” to the capital proceeds fund and when is it scheduled to be paid?