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Residents express concerns about city financial reports

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Posted on: April 17, 2024
Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

Update April 17, 2024: a third version of the audited financial report for fiscal year 2021, dated April 11, 2024, has been posted on the city’s finance department website.  

The City of Hyattsville removed links to audited fiscal year 2021 financial statements after residents expressed concerns about discrepancies in expenditures and fund balances, as reported by Route One Finance, a newsletter recently launched by Claire Panak Tombes, who has written previous articles for the Hyattsville Life & Times

The original audited FY 2021 financial report was released in February 2024 and presented to the city council on March 4 by City Treasurer Ronald Brooks and auditor Robert Diss of Lindsey + Associates. At the presentation, several councilmembers questioned a fund balance discrepancy compared with prior year reports.

A reissued FY 2021 financial report, dated April 2, appeared on the city’s finance website and was then removed. 

In the original FY 2021 report, the city said it had spent $923,065 on the fire department in FY 2021, significantly exceeding the budgeted amount of $50,000. On March 18, 2024, Brooks acknowledged the error in an email to Route One Finance, saying that the “expense [for the fire department] should have been $50,000.” Both reissued reports note actual fire department expenditures as $50,000.

The city has not yet made audited financials for FY 2022 and FY 2023 available. Nearby cities including Mount Rainier, College Park, Laurel, and New Carrollton  have published audited financial reports at least through FY 2022.

The city council is in the midst of preparing the city’s FY 2025 budget, and they rely on financial presentations by city staff to make budgetary decisions.  

As reported in the May 2023 Life & Times, in spring 2023, city staff told the council that that the city would begin FY 2024 with an estimated $28.2 million in the general fund, only to revise that number to $21.2 million after questioned about mathematical discrepancies in the presentation slides.

According to the city finance website, the city council will conduct a public hearing about the real property tax rate on May 6, hold a first reading of the budget on May 20, and adopt the budget on June 3. 

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