Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yet Another Late Scranton Audit

The Scranton Times reports that the forensic audit of Scranton’s books will be even later than expected. The subject of the audit is the Scranton Single Tax Office and the roughly $12 million dollars they were holding instead of giving it to the proper taxing bodies.

Democrat Ken McDowell, current Lackawanna County Controller, was the Scranton Tax Collector during the creation of this boondoggle. The current tax collector is Democrat Marilyn Vitali-Flynn and will be facing her first election in 2009.

During his previous campaign, McDowell blamed a new computer system for late returns and the perception of general malfeasance in the office. Apparently, that same new computer system is the cause of the current problem.

The Philadelphia-based accounting firm that is performing the audit seems unable to extract necessary information from the system to complete the audit. They are currently working out the problem but figure it will take until January of 2009 to complete the audit.

Democratic Mayor Chris Doherty and the Democratic Council passed a 2009 budget that included $5.5 million in revenue from this surplus in the tax office. The city is counting on tax anticipation notes (TANs) or loans against future tax revenue to feed the 2009 budget until the money arrives.

Many have questioned the ability of the city to predict the amount of money Scranton will receive since the audit is not complete. Maybe the administration knows more about the millions the tax office was holding that allowed them to predict the amount they were entitled to. Time will tell.

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