Months after questions were first raised, Dewey town council could soon be getting answers as to how the police department accounts for revenue from equipment acquired through a federal military surplus program.
During a Dec. 16 council meeting, Dewey commissioners voted unanimously in favor of hiring Salisbury-based TGM Group to look back five years at each town department’s procurement procedures and any other revenue-generating activity not under the finance department’s control. The certified public accounting firm has been conducting the town’s end-of-fiscal-year audits for the past five years.
According to a Dec. 9 agreement letter from TGM, the agreed-upon procedures audit is expected to cost $10,000 to $12,500 and take 65 to 80 hours to complete. Nearly a dozen current employees and former Town Manager Marc Appelbaum are expected to be interviewed.
During the council meeting, Mayor TJ Redefer said if the town didn’t agree to this level of scrutiny now, it would have to in the future. He said TGM is aware of accounting inconsistencies and would have required the look-back at the close of the current fiscal year, which is March 31, 2018.
Roy Geiser, TGM Group partner, will conduct the audit. He was not at the council meeting, but during an audit committee meeting Dec. 7, he said he would be looking for proof of ownership and insurance considerations for property obtained under the surplus program, and undisclosed bank accounts.
Geiser said this audit will not express an opinion on the town’s procurement procedures; instead, he described it as Phase 1 of the information-gathering process. At the audit’s completion, he said, he expects the town and the audit committee to decide if further investigation is required.
In an email Dec. 18, Redefer said he expected the audit to begin in early January.
Cooke assumes town manager duties
By a 3-0 vote, town council also voted in favor of Commissioner Dale Cooke assuming town manager duties while the town looks for a replacement for former Town Manager Marc Appelbaum. Cooke abstained from the vote and Commissioner Courtney Riordan was absent.
Redefer said the goal was to hire a town manager in the next 30 to 60 days. During the search, Cooke will be paid at Appelbaum’s contracted rate of a little more than $75,000 a year.
Redefer said council decided to take this route because at least one of the candidates for interim town manager appeared to be qualified for the town manager position.