BY CLAIRE PANAK TOMBES
The City of Hyattsville recently released its fiscal year 2020 audit, which is dated June 12, 2023. The city’s annual financial statement audit and uniform financial report for that year were due to the state on Oct. 31, 2020. The city is also overdue on the FY 2021 and FY 2022 audits, which have not been completed. Since FY 2009, every city audit has been dated at least one year after the state filing deadline.
In previous years, the city’s auditor presented the audit to the city council in an open meeting and other nearby cities, such as College Park and Takoma Park, have public presentations by the auditors at open city council meetings, however a review of available Hyattsville city council minutes does not show any presentations by the auditor for the FY 2014 audit onwards.
The city’s 2019 request for proposals (RFP) for auditing services says “the partner on the audit engagement will present the auditor’s report to the Mayor and Council on an annual basis.” Mayor Robert Croslin, however, said in an interview with the Hyattsville Life & Times that he is “not in favor” of a public presentation by the auditors to city council because “they [the auditor] work for the treasurer and the city administrator and so any information should go through the treasurer to the city administrator and then come to the council and it’s up to the treasurer and the city administrator to make a public presentation on what the findings are.” The city’s most recent audit RFP reiterates the requirement to present to the mayor and city council, and the FY 2020 audit letter from CohnReznick is addressed to the mayor and council.
In the most recent Review of Local Government Audit Reports, an annual report by OLA, Hyattsville was one of four local governments to have two or more outstanding audits. The report says “the failure of a local government to file an audit report, or a delay in filing, results in a lack of timely accountability to its citizens.” Hyattsville has had at least one outstanding audit in every annual OLA report since the 2009 report on FY 2008.
In September 2013, as previously reported by HL&T, the then-City Administrator Jerry Schiro, who had been hired on a one year contract in May 2013, and City Treasurer Elaine Stookey resigned after Schiro and the city council learned that the city was almost two years late on the FY 2011 filing. Brooks was hired in September 2013 and promoted to city treasurer in November 2013 after Stookey’s departure.
Brooks previously told HL&T that the audits were delayed by “pandemic era staffing issues,” but for FY 2014, the first fiscal year for which Brooks was treasurer, through FY 2019, the last fiscal year before the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual audit was dated an average of 640 days after the state deadline. College Park and Greenbelt are nearby cities with similar populations and budgets to Hyattsville. For FY 2020, 2021 and 2022, both cities had audit dates of less than 90 days after the state deadline.
CohnReznick has been the city’s auditor since the FY 2010 audit, dated July 2012. The firm recently ceased municipal audits, and the city has hired Lindsey + Associates to complete the city’s FY 2021, 2022 and 2023 required audits.