How does the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council (ASNC) define animal welfare expenditures, and how much did they spend in that area in the 2010/2011 fiscal year?
With a Dec. 16 budget freeze deadline looming from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, the ASNC spent nearly two hours on Saturday morning debating that question before admitting they could not agree on an answer. This is the second of two posts detailing the discussion.
, DONE had initiated an audit of the neighborhood council in October after an 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."
A copy of DONE's Oct. 26 letter notifying the neighborhood council of the impending audit can be downloaded from the media box on the right.
During a November ASNC meeting, DONE representative Lisette Covarrubias told members that they had found more than $4,000 in animal welfare spending, compared to only $1,500 in board approvals.
Board member Joseph Riser said that DONE had failed to take into consideration nearly $3,000 in animal welfare funds that were approved under the banner of "rescue supplies" and "animal/medical."
"There were two unrelated animal welfare approvals late in the year--totaling $3,000," Riser wrote in an e-mail to Patch. "When both DONE and Treasurer Judy Knapton performed audits, however, they missed the second one in the minutes, and applied all of the $3,000 in spending against only one $1,500 approval."
Saturday's lengthy debate stemmed from a disagreement between former ASNC Treasurer Mark Legassie and Knapton over that alleged accounting error.
According to a reconciliation report provided by Knapton, the council had approved $6,200 in animal welfare expenditures in fiscal year 2010/2011—a number that clashed with Legassie's calculation of $7,650.
Knapton told the council that she had been unable to reconcile a $1,500 expenditure for a “emergency care and first aid for stray dogs and cats within ASNC's boundaries.”
Legassie disputed Knapton's findings, telling the council that “everything [Knapton] says is wrong.”
“I know she's made mistakes, I just haven't been able to find them yet,” Legassie said.
The board eventually voted in favor of responding to DONE's inquiry by stating that they were “unable to determine” the exact amount of funds spent on animal welfare, due to accounting errors.
However, after the meeting, Riser forwarded an e-mail to Patch which showed that a $1,500 expenditure for emergency animal rescue supplies, which was not accounted for by Knapton, had been approved by the board in April.
“This item was not included in Judy [Knapton]'s list of funding requests, although the minutes clearly show it as being approved,” Riser wrote in an email to fellow board members.
Legassie did admit during Saturday's meeting , though, that he had overspent ASNC animal welfare funds by about $600 in 2010/2011 due to a pair of accounting transcription errors. He said that overspending did not cause ASNC to overspend its overall budget, though.
A copy of April's meeting minutes can be downloaded from the box at the right
Personal Attacks Over Initiation of Audit
Saturday's meeting took a turn for the contentious, with Legassie accusing fellow board members of complaining to DONE in order to initiate the audit.
“This is nothing but a kangaroo court,” Legassie said. “It's a witch hunt, done by witches.”
ASNC member Clifford Mosely also accused some of his fellow council members of “stirring up” problems for the board by complaining to DONE.
“You keep saying DONE's asking for this and DONE's asking for that, but the letter does state that the audit was initiated by questions from the board,” Mosely said. “Whoever is running around asking questions needs to knock it off.”
In an e-mail to Patch, Board President Martha Benedict said that Mosely's and Legassie's allegations were unfounded.
“It is not a witch hunt. It is an audit by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment of the ASNC's finances of 2009/2011. I am very confident they are not looking for witches. They instigated this action; no member of the ASNC board collaborated in that decision,” Benedict said.
Benedict added that that she and Knapton had met with DONE staff, but only after it “became apparent that the former treasurer would not comply with DONE requests to convey his records to the new treasurer.”
“We went to the DONE office on October 20, The DONE staff members told us they had already determined there were “irregularities” and advised us to not act on any spending requests in the areas of animal welfare, public safety and outreach,” Benedict said. “Judy [Knapton] reported this at the next ASNC meeting on October 24, 2011.”