Alpine Community Improvement Fund Use Examined, Some Projects Not Completed 1/22/14
CBS 7 News
January 22, 2014
ALPINE-“Our councilors need to do a lot more due diligence in checking in on
what the city manager and financial manager are doing to make sure we
stay on the straight and narrow,” said one Alpine resident during last night’s city council meeting.
Their new city manager says a $1.2 million dollar loan for community improvements may not have been spent the way it was supposed to and some of the improvements were not completed at all.
One of the most high-profile projects never completed was The Railroad Quiet Zone. The new city manager calls it “poor accounting”.
In 2011, Alpine took out a certificate of obligation or loan for $1.2 million. The money was earmarked for city improvements; from fixing city buildings to upgrades and changes as part of a new railroad quiet zone. But there’s no clear record of how the money was spent.
“It’s what I would categorize as sloppy accounting, sloppy fund management,” said new City Manager Erik Zimmer.
In one example, city officials say part of the $80,000 earmarked for the old city hall roof actually purchased furniture.
“That money was set aside to replace the roof and renovate and, yet, when we went through the expenditures we had four or five thousand dollars in furniture put towards that account,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer says it appears all money was spent within the city; some improvements like the animal shelter and the pool were funded. Though the city only budgeted for $80,000 of the pool’s $400,000 dollar price tag. It’s still not clear where the remainder of the money for that project will come from.
“Did you know that any of this money might be going to things other than it was supposed to?”
“No,” said Alpine Mayor Avinash Rangra, who served as a city council member before being elected as mayor in 2012.
The city says policies are now changing.
“Every month we will do a reconciliation to that account and that data should be provided to council,” said Zimmer. “That’s, methodically, best practice in moving forward on some type of obligation like that.”
For now, projects like The Railroad Quiet Zone will be re-evaluated until an alternative source of funding can be found. The city says major changes to that project can also be expected.