Mayor Don Plusquellic acknowledges the findings from an audit of 13 city recreation centers and community events could have been worse, uncovering a much bigger problem than the amount of stolen money by three city workers. As it is, the “good” news is limited: that the theft was relatively small, and that more workers didn’t have their hands in the public till. Given the pattern of sloppy accounting practices revealed by the investigation, the better news would be regular audits and competent supervision.
The audit of records spanning January 2010 to July 2013 found three workers had taken roughly $7,000 in city funds. The audit uncovered financial improprieties at several centers: inadequate documentation of expenses (including a failure to document more than $78,000 in checks and credit card transactions at one center); slush funds; and nearly $50,000 from the 2011 and 2012 Akron Arts Expo that was not deposited for more than a year. There also were instances of rec staff members hiring relatives as contractors without the required procedures and approval.
The manager of the rec bureau is demoted and transferred. In addition to losing their jobs, the three workers who took the money have agreed to make full restitution, avoiding criminal charges. The mayor has argued the amount of money stolen was too small to justify the expense of prosecution. That is reasonable enough, as the city will recover all the funds. Now the city must to ensure strict adherence to the procedures for accountability.