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Performance Audit Recommends $1 Million in Savings to Help City of Portsmouth
Columbus – The City of Portsmouth (Scioto County) could see annual savings of nearly $374,000 and claim one-time benefits of $639,000 based on recommendations of a performance audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
The audit was conducted and paid for by the Auditor after the city was declared to be in fiscal watch on April 9, 2013. Prior to this, the city had been designated to be in “fiscal caution,” on Nov. 22, 2011, when a review found negative cash balances in some funds, appropriations exceeding the city’s resources, and failures to follow statutory requirements in making financial commitments.
State auditors and city staff worked together to identify areas in which the city could achieve savings. Auditors also recommended improved management systems and data collection to help leadership make better decisions about the use of city resources.
“Knowledge is power, and the better that city leaders understand how municipal resources are being used, the better they will be able to identify efficiencies and save money,” Auditor Yost said.
The audit estimates that the city could save $312,000 by the adoption of a more cost-effective health insurance plan. In addition, increasing the employee share of the cost of health insurance premiums could save $47,000 a year. Portsmouth also is advised to try to recoup $614,000 in delinquent water and sewer service billing.
Auditors recommended that the city develop a work-order system for the Water and Wastewater departments, create a preventive maintenance program for city vehicles and that it use workload-based analysis to determine the appropriate staffing levels for police and firefighters.
Auditors also noted that the Financial Health Indicators, a diagnostic tool employed by the Auditor of State, show that the city has been making progress, with 12 of 16 indicators having a positive outlook. Three indicators are “cautionary,” and one, involving compliance with budgeting law and auditing standards, remains “critical.”
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,900 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.