Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Retired CPA Bob Lee Delivers Treasurer's Report for City Treasurer Patrick Roberson

HELENA-WEST HELENA- When called upon to deliver the City Treasurer's report, City Treasurer delegated the floor to retired CPA Bob Lee, to whom he has apparently delegated many of the duties of the Treasurer's office.

Bob Lee
Lee opened up by saying that he has been working on these reports two days per week for much of the new administration.  He explained his understanding of municipal accounting and painted what he felt was a dire picture.  He said that the city had almost half of a million dollars in the bank and had a positive cash flow in recent months.  However, he pointed out a list of significant debts that he totaled at approxmately $1 million.  Some of those debts are disputed.  For instance, the lawsuit assumes that all lawsuits pending against the city will result in total losses for the city and having to pay all that the plaintiffs ask.

He also said, "I don't know why anyone would do business with this city."  This was in reference to some vendors receiving their money directly out of tax collections before delivery to the city.  For an example, the bond company that issued the landfill bonds receives its funds directly from the sales tax that is dedicated to it.  This is not an unusual arrangement.  He also pointed out the utility companies deduct the city's bill from the franchise tax payments, which was an arrangement made dating back to the Miller administration in the former city of Helena.

One of the lawsuits that Lee listed as a sure loser was the lawsuit against the city from former Mayor Johnny Weaver concerning retirement benefits.  A case on this issue has already been heard once by the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Valley administration won that case.  The issue is whether or not Weaver was entitled to begin receiving retirement benefits at age 55 or when he turns 60 this year.  The council voted to proceed to court and begin the retirement payments in a few months when Weaver turns 60.

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