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UPDATE: ASNC Audit Imperils Board's Funding

The Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday morning to plan their response to a recently completed audit by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.

will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to plan their response to a recently completed Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) audit, which alleges that that the board misspent city funds and failed to properly account for expenditures.

According to a DONE General Manager Bonghwan Kim, the neighborhood council has until Friday, Dec. 16 formally respond to the audit. If that deadline is not met, the letter states, the board will have its funding frozen.

According to an Oct. 26 letter, sent to the board by Kim, the audit was initiated by DONE's independent review of "purchase card expenditures" and "questions received from the board" which indicated that "multiple transaction [were] conducted without the approval of the board."

The letter goes on the state that "Purchase Card Reconciliation Reports for the last two quarters in fiscal year 2010-2011 may not not have been approved by the board."

update: A document prepared by ASNC Treasurer Judy Knapton, which documents non-approved board expenditures can be downloaded from the media box at the right. According to Knapton, those items which are not highlighted were not approved by the board.

In a subsequent letter, sent on Nov. 22, Kim also requested clarification of the total amount of funding approved by the ASNC last year for animal welfare expenses, as well as the confirmation of approval for purchase card expenditures for "medical services for stray animals" and "animal rescue supplies."

Mark Legassie, former treasurer of the ASNC and current chair of the board's Animal Welfare Committee, disputed the audit's findings.

"What they accused us of was not true, just one thing after another," Legassie said.

In particular, Legassie said that treasurer's best practice handbook did not require him to bring quarterly reconciliation reports before the board for approval.

"The whole board doesn't need to approve reconciliation reports," Legassie said. "They need to be completed monthly by Treasurer and submitted quarterly to DONE."

According to DONE's website, "Neighborhood Councils must keep accurate records of how they are spending the public funds.  Records, such as original receipts, bank statements, and evidence of Board approval via minutes or a Board resolution, will be required when Neighborhood Councils submit their quarterly reconciliations for audit."

The DONE audit also raises questions about Purchase card expenditures listed under "medical services for stray animals" and "animal rescue supplies."

Legassie admitted that approximately $7,000 in ASNC funds were spent last year for animal welfare, including money to euthanize a stray cat that had been attacked by a coyote and funds for a surgery for a dog that had its foot run over by a car.

He said each of those funding allocations were approved both by the Animal Welfare Committee and the full ASNC.

"All of these requests were first approved by Animal Welfare Committee, then it went to the full board," Legassie said.

Judy Knapton, the current treasure of the ASNC, declined to comment when contacted by Patch.

ASNC President Martha Benedict also declined to comment.

The ASNC's Emergency meeting to disccuss DONE's audit will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Montecito Heights Senior Center on 4545 Homer St. in Montecito Heights.

Update:

ASNC President posted the following the comments, clarifying the distinction between a special meeting and an emergency meeting:

This is not an emergency meeting (which forgives some Brown Act requirements) but special because ASNC has not held a December business meeting in the past.

Alice M. December 09, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Nice piling on. Keep kicking, they're not ALL the way beaten down into the ground yet.
Alice M. December 09, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Far as I can tell, at least all of the funds were actually spent on things that benefit the community and animal welfare, even if maybe going overboard in a few cases. Not like some local councils paying thousands for fancy restaurant dinnners while they held committee meetings or the fake turkey and toy giveaways some of our elected officials stage for publicity right before they kick off new elections. To say nothing of city councils expensive junkets to Singapore or Paris to study "traffic light patterns" for a few hours between cocktail parties.
Rob Schraff December 09, 2011 at 07:28 PM
Who are "they?" Mr. Legassie loudly proclaims he did nothing shady. And we don't even know who was on the "Animal Welfare Committee" that supposedly approved these expenses in lieu of the board, as seems to be required by DONE. They do not appear on the minutes available by searching www.asnc.us
Rob Schraff December 09, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Oh, well then, that's OK. No reason to have open votes with people on the record, or follow well-known rules and laws.
Rob Schraff December 10, 2011 at 03:33 PM
This meeting is still listed at 11 AM on the ASNC homepage - so don't feel too bad, David!

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