New auditor, military equipment surplus debated in Dewey

CohnReznick approved, no date set for equipment liquidation
July 16, 2019

Approving a new auditing firm and how to dispose of military equipment purchased through the LESO program drew debate at the Dewey Beach commissioners’ meeting June 14. 

Town council was joined by about eight others at the Dewey Beach Lifesaving station to discuss an agenda that included an update on the Dewey Beach enterprise construction redevelopment project, the upcoming 2019 municipal election deadlines and a follow-up report from Memorial Day. 

Mayor TJ Redefer first told audit committee Chair Julie Johnson that her item would be discussed later in the meeting, so she didn’t need to be there for another hour or two. Then, just a few minutes into the meeting, Redefer motioned to move the item up on the agenda. When it passed, Johnson stuck around. 

Johnson discussed her committee’s lengthy process to find the best new audit firm for Dewey Beach. She said they decided to interview three firms; another one sent in its proposal late, so they elected not to interview that firm. Days later, that firm contacted Johnson stating there had been an issue with the delivery service, and that the proposal had not actually been sent late. 

Johnson and her team decided to reinstate the interview, and, to council’s surprise, that was the firm Johnson and her team chose to recommend as the next city auditor—CohnReznick. 

CohnReznick, based in Maryland, is working to break into Delaware, Johnson said. According to the company’s web site, the firm has more than 270 partners and principals and almost 3,000 employees. They have 26 offices and an international reach that extends to 100 countries. The company promises a smooth transition from the previous audit firm. 

Johnson said what caught her attention was CohnReznick’s sense of flexibility.

“They told us that they can start as soon as we say so,” Johnson told the council. The council approved CohnReznick as the right choice for Dewey’s next auditing firm. 

Still on the agenda was the controversial LESO program, under which Dewey Beach Police received numerous pieces of equipment that the town has never used and now wants to auction off. In August, commissioners voted unanimously to dispose of the items in April; that deadline was later extended until July 4. However, no sales have taken place to date and no new deadline has been set to auction the items. Council agreed bidders will likely purchase at higher prices in the fall rather than during the summer. In addition, a suggestion to hold two separate auctions, one for items with titles and the other for untitled items, drew debate, but council decided not to split any items from the others. 

An argument ensued about where the money earned from the auction would go. Some commissioners said LESO money should be used to fund future expenses, saying it cannot all go to the police department but should instead be evenly distributed to all departments in need of funding. 

“This isn’t a town-benefited product,” Commissioner Paul Bauer said, who added that the town has actually suffered because money spent on the procedures that went into the LESO inventory should’ve gone somewhere else. 

On a lighter note, officials discussed a Facebook page for the city of Dewey Beach, where upcoming events could be posted. Commissioners decided to eliminate the ability to make public comments on the page to avoid negativity and to restrict posts to upcoming events, with no political announcements. The council voted in favor of an official Dewey Facebook page.

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