September 14, 2010
An audit of public funds provided to the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. has been postponed until at least next year.
The City Council on Monday asked interim City Auditor Denny Nester to include the proposed EDC audit in his 2011 audit schedule, possibly in the first quarter. Council members did not vote on the matter.
“It’s somewhat reassuring that those opposed to any form of oversight — those who are happy to turn over public money to private entities and take their word for exactly what they do with it — remain in the minority,” Councilman Sean Paige, who called for the audit, wrote in his blog Tuesday.
The proposed audit triggered a wave of controversy.
Councilman Randy Purvis said Monday that people in the community believed the EDC was being singled out.
Purvis said he supports the concept of auditing entities that receive public funds.
“But I don’t think we should do it in a way that suggests that any one recipient is being questioned as to their integrity or to their use of the funds,” he said, adding that the EDC audit should be included in Nester’s work plan for next year.
Paige said it was “unfortunate” if anyone believed he was singling out the EDC.
“I didn’t question the EDC’s integrity at any point,” he said, adding that he wants to make sure the EDC isn’t spending public funds on political activities or for wining and dining.
Councilman Bernie Herpin said the EDC segregates the money it uses for political activities but that one of its roles is to wine and dine prospective employers.
Council members said they want the auditor to audit other organizations that receive large sums of public money, including the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, which Rivera said receives about four times the money the EDC does.
“It’s important from a transparency and trust, faith relationship with the community that we just be very upfront and (let these outside entities know) if you’re going to take city assistance, then there may come a knock on the door, and the accountants may show up,” Councilman Tom Gallagher said. “It’s not that I personally think anybody is doing anything wrong. It should be a matter of public policy.”
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